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Melissa Vandenberg

monographic publication forthcoming

 

 

Melissa VandenbergMelissa Vandenberg

Melissa Vandenberg

smoke 'em if you got 'em

 

 

January 18 - March 1, 2019

artist talk and closing reception
Friday, March 1 (6-8pm)

 

 

 

Maus Contemporary is excited to announce Melissa Vandenberg's upcoming exhibition smoke 'em if you got 'em, the artist's second solo exhibition at the gallery.

 

Vandenberg's studio practice explores the political landscape using national identity, folk art, ancestry, immigration and the perception of a homeland as points of departure. She gravitates to everyday materials like matches, fabric, stickers, wood, temporary tattoos and found objects. Born and educated in Detroit, Melissa Vandenberg is a multidisciplinary artist, educator and curator living and working in Richmond, KY where she is an Associate Professor of Art at Eastern Kentucky University.

 

 

 
 
 
Repetition is a motif central to Vandenberg's production. Recalling Gilles Deleuze's pronouncement that only that which is alike differs, and only differences are alike, Vandenberg inserts selected symbols, such as stars or stripes, and certain texts, such as the word PATRIOT, within many of her works.

It is almost as if Vandenberg has taken the negative space created by removing the term from the former and layered it over the latter creating an oscillating relationship between these two series.
It is this type of subtle understandings of the ways in which an artist can move within and between media that makes Vandenberg's long history as a practitioner evident. Rather than be trapped within the confines of a medium for fear of stepping outside it, she is as comfortable within one as she is within another. She also revisits methods, but reinterprets their meanings. Drawing on the matchstick drawing methods of her 1998 Untitled (Match Drawing Series) works, Vandenberg is now producing new pieces which scorch paper, but she has turned towards the figurative, using many of the same icons that appear in her collages and three-dimensional works.
 
 
 CVCV
 
 
_
 
 
 
" To understand Melissa Vandenberg's public-facing finished work, it's crucial to understand the private aspects of her compositional process. Several months ago, the artist sent me video documentation of her burn-drawing process, filmed from a tripod in the corner of her studio. In the center of the frame, Vandenberg had laid out the second panel of her drawing Glory Days on a work table. Matches comprising the lower half of the letter "e" were lined up neatly, side by side, their sticks fanning out. The scene was not precious; behind the work table were studio odds and ends, including Tupperware containers and a tote bag. Once she lit the match, however, the visual noise, the humdrum of the studio, faded away. Watching the footage, it's impossible to not be captivated by the meditative spectacle of the row of matches aflame. The burning went fast, and after a few seconds, Vandenberg's hand reached into the frame to extinguish the matches. Like a bodily afterimage, her red hair peeked into the lower corner of the frame as she leaned forward to examine her work.

The whole video clocks in at one minute. Still, the footage gives a sense of the push-and-pull of Vandenberg's process, an oscillation between the careful plotting of her drawings and the chance act of burning. If one of her burns, which she also calls "brands," goes awry, the whole work must be started over again. Each attempt, then, is a leap of faith, the work a ritual with an almost spiritual sense of commitment.
 
 
 
The finished Glory Days illustrates the words "glory daze," rendered through burns in a lowercase cursive font. When mounted, the tail from the "y" in glory and the "d" in daze align but do not touch, separated as they are over two sheets of paper with a small gap between them. The near touch brings a host of associations to mind, from the art-historical - Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco The Creation of Adam - to the metaphorical, fractious political divisions in the U.S.  (...) "


- Wendy Vogel (excerpt of an essay for Vandenberg's forthcoming monograph)
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Vandenberg - Veneres triptychMelissa Vandenberg - Veneres triptych

 

Veneres

triptych

 

2018
match burns on Arches paper
each ca. 30 by 22.5 in. (ca. 76 by 57 cm each)

 

 

 

 

Melissa Vandenberg - Veneres (left side element)Melissa Vandenberg - Veneres (left side element)

Melissa Vandenberg - Veneres (central element)Melissa Vandenberg - Veneres (central element)

Melissa Vandenberg - Veneres (right side element)Melissa Vandenberg - Veneres (right side element)

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Vandenberg _ DoublespeakMelissa Vandenberg _ Doublespeak

 

Doublespeak

2018
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 22.5 by 30 in. (ca. 57 by 76 cm)

 

 

 

 

Melissa Vandenberg - DoubletalkMelissa Vandenberg - Doubletalk

 

Doubletalk

2018
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 22.5 by 30 in. (ca. 57 by 76 cm)

 

 

 

 

Melissa Vandenberg - PlicaMelissa Vandenberg - Plica

 

Plica

2018
sparkler burns on Arches paper
ca. 29.5 by 40 in. (ca. 75 by 101.6 cm)

 

 

 

 

Melissa Vandenberg - Red VanitasMelissa Vandenberg - Red Vanitas

 

Red Vanitas

2018
match burns and ink on Arches paper
ca. 22.5 by 30 in. (ca. 57 by 76 cm)

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Vandenberg - Fall TrinityMelissa Vandenberg - Fall Trinity

 

Fall / Trinity
(Distress -  Free Fall  - Hole)


2018
match burns on Arches paper
each ca. 22.5 by 30 in. (ca. 57 by 76 cm each)

 

 

 

 

Melissa Vandenberg - Fall Trinity (left side element)Melissa Vandenberg - Fall Trinity (left side element)

 

Fall / Trinity  (Distress)

2018
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 22.5 by 30 in. (ca. 57 by 76 cm)

 

 

 

 

Melissa Vandenberg - Fall Trinity (central element)Melissa Vandenberg - Fall Trinity (central element)

 

Fall / Trinity  (Free Fall)

2018
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 22.5 by 30 in. (ca. 57 by 76 cm)

 

 

 

 

Melissa Vandenberg - Fall Trinity (right side element)Melissa Vandenberg - Fall Trinity (right side element)

 

Fall / Trinity  (Hole)

2018
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 22.5 by 30 in. (ca. 57 by 76 cm)

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Vandenberg - Golden WenMelissa Vandenberg - Golden Wen

 

Golden Wen

2018
match burns and gold leaf on Arches paper
ca. 22.5 by 30 in. (ca. 57 by 76 cm)

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Vandenberg - OutlandMelissa Vandenberg - Outland


Outland

2017
sparkler burns on Arches paper
ca. 29.5 by 40 in. (ca. 75 by 101.6 cm)

 

 

 

 

 



Bang Bang

2016
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 29.5 by 40 in. (ca. 75 by 101.6 cm)

 

 

 

 

 



Bang Bang II

2017
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 29.5 by 40 in. (ca. 75 by 101.6 cm)

 

 

 

 

 



Origin of the World

2016
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 29.5 by 34.5 in. (ca. 75 by 87,6 cm)

 

private collection, Birmingham, AL

 

 

 

 
 
 
 



Vagina China

2017
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 29.5 by 40 in. (ca. 75 by 101.6 cm)

 

 

 

 



Ex * Pat * Riot

2016
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 27.5 by 29.5 in. (ca. 70 by 75 cm)

 

 

 

 

 



Worship / Warship

2016
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 29.5 by 40 in. (ca. 75 by 101.6 cm)

 

 

 

 



Welfare / Warfare

2016
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 29.5 by 40 in. (ca. 75 by 101.6 cm)

 

permanent collection of the 21c Museum Louisville, KY

 

 

 

 

 



Slanted Patriot

2015
sparkler burns on Arches paper
ca. 29.5 by 40 in. (ca. 75 by 101.6 cm)

 

private collection New York, NY

 

 

 

 

 



Free•dom

2015
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 29.5 by 40 in. (ca. 75 by 101.6 cm)

 

 

 

 



Proper Patriot

2015
sparkler burns on Arches paper
ca. 29.5 by 40 in. (ca. 75 by 101.6 cm)

 

permanent collection of the 21c Museum Louisville, KY

 

 

 

 

 



Fire Crotch

2015
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 29.5 by 40 in. (ca. 75 by 101.6 cm)

 

 

 

 



FIRE

2014
match burns on Arches paper
ca. 20.4 by 28 in. (ca. 51,8 by 71,1 cm)

 

 

 

 

 



Polycephalic Patriot

2013
US flag, polyester, thread
coiled dimensions (as shown on image) approx 18 by 30 by 28 in., extended dims ca. 10 ft long

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Waterworks

2013
life vest, chandelier crystals, thread, wood
ca. 52 by 14 by 22 in. (ca. 132,1 by 35,6 by 55,9 cm)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Untitled (Match Drawing Series)

1998
match burns on paper
ca. 35 by 29 in. (ca. 88,9 by 73,7 cm)
 







Stella

2002
fabric, twine, polyester
ca. 13 by 18 by 12 in.

private collection, Richmond, KY
 
 
 





Resident

2004
feed sacks, twine, mails, electric cord, wood
ca. 42 by 24 by 42 in.

private collection, Carbondale, IL
 
 
 





Wean

2005
wood, metal
ca. 18 by 42 by 10 in.

private collection, Memphis, TN
 
 
 
 




Stump performance
Surplus Gallery @ the Glove Factory,
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL


2005

 
 
 





Totem

2007
cardboard, lights, fabric
dims variable

 
 
 
 




White on White

2008
colored pencil and pencil on paper
ca. 22 by 28 in. (ca. 55,9 by 71,1 cm)
 
 
 
 




Siamese Flag

2009
watercolor and pencil on paper
ca. 16 by 22 in. (ca. 40,6 by 55,9 cm)
 
 
 
 





Untitled (Flag Study)

2009
fingerprints w/ ink on folded paper,
incisions on paper
ca. 16 by 20 in. (ca. 40,6 by 50,8 cm)
 
 
 
 





Untitled Gravestone

2012
linen, polyester
ca. 46 by 19 by 19 in. (ca. 116,8 by 48,2 by 48,2 cm)

 


 





Drawing on fifteen years of innovation across a diverse range of media including sculpture, works on paper and performance, Vandenberg challenges viewers, ever so softly, to consider their personal constructions of self, identity, place and nation. As she states on her website, “identity is in the home we create, the goods we possess and in the land we live.
 
Vandenberg continues to explore her fascination with the iconography of identity. In Sink or Swim: Family Style (shown above), three life vests fashioned from salvaged American flags hang from a handmade wall-mount. Repetition is a motif central to Vandenberg’s production. Recalling Gilles Deleuze’s pronouncement that only that which is alike differs, and only differences are alike, Vandenberg inserts selected symbols, such as stars or stripes, and certain texts, such as the word EXIT, within many of her works.
 
Both the three-dimensional Clouds of Vertical Development (shown on right) – a hand-fabricated, multi-media three-dimensional Exit sign with an electrical cord tail, and EXIT (shown on right), a collaged multi-media photograph from the Seen, Not Heard series, each use a typographically similar text. It is almost as if Vandenberg has taken the negative space created by removing the term from the former and layered it over the latter creating an oscillating relationship between these two series.



It is this type of subtle understandings of the ways in which an artist can move within and between media that makes Vandenberg’s long history as a practitioner evident. Rather than be trapped within the confines of a medium for fear of stepping outside it, she is as comfortable within one as she is within another. She also revisits methods, but reinterprets their meanings. Drawing on the matchstick drawing methods of her 1998 Untitled (Match Drawing Series) works, Vandenberg is now producing new pieces which scorch paper, but she has turned towards the figurative, using many of the same icons that appear in her collages and three-dimensional works.