Melissa Webb is a fiber artist working in the areas of site-specific installation, photography, performance, and video. She received her BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. She has exhibited her work at venues and events such as ‘sindikit projects, Vis-Arts Rockville, ICA Baltimore, School 33 Art Center, Maryland Institute College of Art, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland Art Place, and at the Philadelphia Fringe, Transmodern, and Artscape festivals. Melissa is a three-time Janet and Walter Sondheim Prize semi-finalist, the recipient of a Robert Rauschenberg Artistic Innovation and Collaboration Grant, the Cranbrook Academy of Art Director’s Fellowship, an Oxbow Residency Award, a Baker Foundation project grant, and a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Sculpture. She built and taught garment and performance based courses for eight years with the MICA Fiber department, and has curated many regional exhibitions both independently, and within her role as Curator and Director of Exhibitions for School 33 Art Center from 2014-2019. Melissa is currently based in Detroit, Michigan.
My work is multi-disciplinary, traversing the terrains of fiber art, performance, installation, photography, and video while incorporating an improvisational response to materials, people, and space both analog and digital. Layering accumulations of handmade textiles and textures,
I covet, collect, and combine, applying traditional fiber processes such as immersion dyeing, crochet, and surface embellishment. Detailed, immersive scenarios emerge wherein bodies intervene, resulting in the creation of material residue and imagery.
Within my practice, I dissect romanticized diametrical metonymies of utopian and dystopian landscapes, while imagining a less human-centered future where we learn to thrive in symbiosis with the natural world. As a maker I want to engage, however abstractly, in a revisualization of human trajectory—a counter to the spectre of infinitely accelerating industrial growth and subsequent environmental collapse... and a hopeful projection of a reclamation of the earth by wildness.
Horror and humanity are inextricable from one another. I am/we are human. We relate to the world through our human-ness, through my consciousness and yours and that of the collective we/us. Regretfully and with reverence, some search for abundant, Dionysian botanical richness with a desire to fall into wildness, to be enveloped, wholly immersed. Grown over. To start again. Perhaps, grasping for answers,
I am rewinding time, perhaps flashing forward. Looking for a panacea for the cultural trope of traversal through a hellish landscape barren
of life, of endless dusty roads through abandoned towns, of dodging the desperate and mal-intentioned... hungry, cold and untrusting. I move instead toward a fuzzy, mirage-like visage of a natural world that has been beckoning, relentlessly, through all the conditions of our disregard, exploitation and manipulation. The body is in repose here, inhabiting this space. It is a surrender, a mea-culpa, a redemption. An earthly and bodily homecoming and homemaking.
Through my practice I tease through the constructs of beauty, vitality, and the sublime as demonstrated through a glorified, romantic vision of the natural... images of growth and multiplicity at an exponential level. A phantasmatic mind-space where curling, entangled plant life provides a canvas of green upon which all else grows. Here, a symbiosis takes hold—a dissolution and subsequent reanimation of the self as existing within, and deeply connected bodily to an ecosystem of seemingly endless and bountiful biodiversity. For me, this comes together through the use of textiles and textures that mimic natural forms and hold a history of care. I collaborate with those who have passed on, making and unmaking vintage doilies and trimmings which were crafted by often unknown hands... shared, handed-down, and admired with an intention
to saturate, obscure, soften, and protect the hard angles and surfaces of the domestic space.