Tag Archives: North Adams


Wayfinding on view through September 25

MCLA GALLERY 51 TO EXTEND ‘WAYFINDING: A solo show by Melanie Mowinski

NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will extend the exhibition of Melanie Mowinski’s “Wayfinding” through September 25, 2016. Please come and meet the artist at a reception during  DownStreet Art night on Thursday, August 25th from 5-8 pm.

“Wayfinding” is about trusting the way and understanding the many paths to get to the same destination literally and figuratively. Through installation, letterpress, book arts and collage, artist Melanie Mowinski presents an investigation of the motivations behind the paths taken in life.

While on sabbatical from her position as Associate Professor of Art at MCLA, Mowinski was one of three visiting artists in Venice, Italy at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica, served as an artist­in-­residence at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City and traveled to Memphis, Chicago, Clarksdale, Miami and New York City. In each of these cities or towns, she tracked her walks and wayfinding with a combination of data from electronic devices, drawings and writings. This information became the source for many of the drawings and artist books in “Wayfinding.”

Mowinski cultivates experimentation in her artwork alongside traditional bookbinding and art making practices, in addition to repetitive mark­making, which is the hallmark of this exhibition. One of the primary symbols in her artistic iconography is the simple dot that she clusters in two­-dimensional form in drawings and three-­dimensional form in the installation, “What Can Happen in a Year.” The dot represents a myriad of possibilities literally and metaphorically.

“I am continually drawn to the act of repetition as a form of prayer and meditation, whether it is making a mark over and over, creating the same sculptural object, or editioning an artist book, that act of repeating becomes the thing that grounds me in my process and focuses my attention.”

She also gravitates towards one-­of­-a-­kind artist books housed in unusual and traditional enclosures including Please Forgive Me, Parallel and Appetite for Egress, which are part of this exhibition.

Her artist books under the imprint 29 PRESS are in private and public collections like the Crouch Library at Baylor University, The Free Library of Philadelphia, The Ruth Hughes Collection at Oberlin College, Tate Modern Museum of Art in London, and the Love Library at the University of Nebraska­Lincoln.

Mowinski is the 2016 recipient of the Cultural Council Northern Berkshire Individual Artist Grant. CCNB is one of the local branches of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

For more information, go to www.mcla.edu.

Special thanks to Nicole LeClair for the photographs in this blog post.

Forgive Me: Getting Ready for Wayfinding

My exhibition Wayfinding opens at MCLA’s Gallery 51 in a smidgen over a month from today. (July 28, 2016)  There are about a half-dozen in progress pieces/artist books that must be completed by the install. Every day I get a little closer to being ready.

Sewing Forgive MeYesterday I stitched together 28 signatures into the book Forgive Me, a book inspired by the Hawaiian forgiveness meditation and ritual Ho’oponopono.  Anyone who has ever navigated the process of forgiveness knows that it can by a difficult path. Ho‘oponopono was introduced to me as a meditation practice where one repeats four phrases over and over. Kinda like the Metta prayer. There are other ways of practicing it too. Read more about that here.

The four phrases are:

I’m sorry.      Please forgive me.     I love you.     Thank you.

Simple, right? Maybe. In finding my way through this thing called life, forgiveness comes up again and again. How do we forgive each other? Ourselves? The many different atrocities in our world? How can we hold a lightness in our heart when so much hatred and anger fills our society? Perhaps Ho‘oponopono and Metta can help. This book repeats those phrases over and over as you read through it, becoming the meditation itself. I’m currently fantasizing about exhibiting it on a table with my pink velvet chair next to it, inviting that meditation.

Greek Sewing diagram, Keith Smith

I printed each of these phrases over and over onto each one of the 28 signatures that were first painted with various inks and gesso resists. Then I bound them together using the Greek Sewing from Keith Smith’s Non-Adhesive Binding Volume III: Exposed Spine Sewings. This is a ridiculously fun binding where one half of the text block is sewn to one cover and the other half to the other cover. Then the two halves are joined using a figure-8 type stitch. The stitching feels a lot like the caterpillar stitch, if you know that one, and just like the caterpillar stitch requires fierce concentration. No chatting on the phone while sewing this book.

Fully open trial Greek Binding I chose this sewing because it can result in a slightly swollen spine, a no-no for many bindings, I want this book to be displayed completely open, and a swollen spine will do that. Here’s what it will look like from above when displayed. This is the mock-up book–loving it already.

The book will be housed in a custom made box using a glorious scrap of hot pink paper backed silk. I have exactly enough of it to do this. As long as I don’t make any errors.  If you want to see the finished book in all its glory AND its box, be sure to put July 28, 2016, 5-7 pm on your calendar. See you DownStreet!IMG_0029


It’s Time to Let Go

The Paper Dresses opening at PRESS proved to be a magical evening.

If you were unable to make it, one of the highlights of the night was the  “happening/performance” starring two dresses by Diane Sullivan and my Let Go dress.

Big thanks to my MCLA colleague in theatre Laura Standley and three of her students, Courtney McLaren, Crysta Cheverie, and Kelsey McGonigle. They created an evening to remember. Please enjoy this slide show of the performance. Imagine the first few songs of the Amelie soundtrack and you might just be able to picture how the happening happened. Another big thanks to summer BHIP intern Nicole LeClair for taking these pictures!

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The performance began with all three young women walking into the gallery at various speeds and intensities, moving backward and forward and in and around people and artwork. After about 5-10 minutes of this, Courtney, who was wearing the Let Go dress stopped. Crysta and Kelsey then began inviting people to come and tear off the part of the let go strips written with various statements. Sometimes it was very easy to tear off the strips, at other times quite difficult. Once torn, they were to be left to the floor. Gone, having been let go. This went on for a few minutes then the young women returned to the starting movement before taking up positions in the window where they moved slowly for a little while until they were released.

This dress evolved out my interest in what other people hold onto. Over 250 people contributed statements over the course of the summer. The top “thing” that people hold onto, according to this very informal poll, is fear. I shared this with my father and he reminded me of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I wonder what our world would be like if we all let go of fear.

During the opening, the various “let go” statements were torn off the dress and left to the world, as a reminder of how sometimes we need someone to help us let go, as well as that it is sometimes just really hard to let go…

Woodshed 2013

100 Hours in the Woodshed is a biannual event hosted by Danny O at MCLA’s Gallery 51. This is my third year as a participant. It begins with an opening reception/meet the artists from 5-7 pm on Thursday night, followed by three hours of art-making. We all leave around 10 pm and return on Friday and Saturday at 10 am working until 10 pm. Sunday we come back for eight more hours, again beginning at 10 am and this day working until 6 pm. At that point we strike the set, break down the tables, pile up the art and wait.

Monday, Ryder Cooley, G51′s new gallery manager and Susan Cross, MASS MoCA curator come onto the scene to curate the exhibit, and then it gets installed. Tuesday, like in two days Tuesday, the show opens to the public, from 5-7 pm. Hope to see you there!!

Please come. Please come to see the book I made. And the other stuff too, but I love this little book. I love everything I made. I haven’t been this excited by work I’ve made in ages. The book uses a structure that Alisa Golden is trying to get everyone who makes it call it the Australian Piano Hinge instead of Flat-Style Australian Reverse Piano Hinge binding. I agree with her. I saw the instructions for this on her blog and have been wanting to make it, and this weekend allowed me that opportunity.

Back of the book QUEST

Back of the book QUEST

Quest pages 1-2

Quest pages 1-2

QUEST pages 3-4

QUEST pages 3-4

QUEST pages 5-6

QUEST pages 5-6

QUEST pages 7-8

QUEST pages 7-8

Two important things happened for me this weekend.

1. It was confirmed to me, something that I already know and have read in countless books on creativity, that inspiration doesn’t just happen. Sure there are those moments of insight, but regular, focused work breeds inspiration. By the time I reached 29 hours into the event, two big huge connections happened. One–that one of the things I am doing in the collages that I really like is pairing the flat with the dimensional. This opened up a huge flood of visual connections and the opportunity to create more mindfully. Two, that the way to bring the God thing that I sort of haphazardly stab at here and there is by going back to the pages and pages of notes and writing that I did while earning my Master’s in Religion at Yale–and picking out text from that writing instead of the more cliche attempts that I’ve been making lately.

2. I am ready to move forward from events of two years ago. (If you know, you know. If you don’t–well, just know that I was very sad two years ago, and that sadness is really, finally and completely lifting. Don’t ask me about it.) While the raven will still be seen from time to time, there is a lightness emerging in my color and image choice that I haven’t seen in years. I even am consciously choosing to work with yellow. Unheard of for me. (Not that you will see it in this imagery, just trust me.)

Here’s the other work I made. I’m thinking it would be very much fun to cancel classes tomorrow, stay home and continue working, but I know I won’t be able to give into that urge. But maybe another day this week…

The work ist better in person–the light wasn’t so great today for these pics. I’ll do my best to update with clearer ones, so come on Tuesday so you get the best view!





I shall be released

I shall be released

Six collages, the top middle one is my favorite.

Six collages, the top middle one is my favorite.