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waxing my third eye, Venice edition

waxing my third eye SG0As part of my residency at the Scuola, I am honored with a solo show in their gallery. I thought it would be towards the end of my residency, but I discovered five days after arrived, that it needed to happen, well, right away, to open today January 20th, with the install on the 18th. (I arrived on January 7…I’ll let you do the math.)

Thankfully I brought with me a few prints, an artist book, and an idea/vision. And then the past week I’ve been in the studio all day making little red “balls”, setting and printing type, stitching and constructing. And I finished last night! Here’s the statement:

Waxing My Third Eye presents experiments on paper and artist books involving pressure printing, painting and stitching on paper, and handset letterpress type by American artist Melanie Mowinski. In meditation, the third eye becomes the focus point between the two actual eyes. There are some people who believe that the third eye is a partially dormant pineal gland between the two hemispheres of the brain. Others look at it as the place of connection with the actual pineal gland that resides near the center of the brain tucked in a groove where the two halves of the thalamus join.  Regardless, when focusing on this point during meditation one can access what Descartes believed to be “the principal seat of the soul and place in which all our thoughts are formed.” Attention to this inner eye allows the meditator to connect to one’s internal and external world as witness with an eye to acceptance of the impermanence of life. The work in this exhibit evolved from explorations of using this focus point to alleviate pain and anxiety that Mowinski experienced as she muddled through a year of surgeries due to breast cancer. (If this is new to you, click on this link for a wee bit of back story.waxing my third eye SG3 waxing my third eye SG4 waxing my third eye SG5

My vision of the exhibit is that you start with I am Brave, which I began making to help prepare me for the mastectomy. Then you move through the red yarn and little red dots, which are often part of my work, and symbolize struggle, loss, and calm through meditation. As Kiki Smith says “I think there’s a spiritual power in repetition, a devotional quality, like saying rosaries.”waxing my third eye SG6 waxing my third eye SG7 waxing my third eye SG8


Next comes a series of small compositions, 5×5 inches, some with letterpress text, most with stitched additions like dots and pathways. waxing my third eye SG11 waxing my third eye SG12 waxing my third eye SG13 waxing my third eye SG14 waxing my third eye SG15 waxing my third eye SG16

This transitions abruptly to a different color palette, into the first work I created after the mastectomy while at Wells this summer. And finally, a new book made just this week which represents that it’s time to move forward.

waxing my third eye SG17 waxing my third eye SG18 waxing my third eye SG19

In gathering all of this together, sitting with it for the past two weeks, I feel like I can let it go and move forward. This will always be part of me, but will not define me.

In retrospect, the pressure became a gift. It forced me to make the work I’ve been struggling to make for the past six months and reminded me of Parkinson’s Law: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. I’m certain that had I not had this deadline thrown upon me, the work would have stretched over my entire time here in Venice. Now the exhibit is done, and I can get on with other ideas that are bubbling!

Big thank you to those who helped make this exhibit possible:

  • Matilda and Lorenzo at Scuola for inviting me to come for a residency for six-weeks.
  • Hyemi, Scuola resident coordinator for her help installing, and her vision. This young women made compositional connections with some of the smaller pieces as she installed it resulting in links I couldn’t see because I was so steeped in the making.
  • Deirdre Kelly, Scuola exhibition coordinator for her help installing and the insight for layout.
  • Nina Molin, who came up with the title during an hysterical conversation about hair removal a couple of weeks after the mastectomy
  • Doctor Lockhart, for pushing me to sort through the remaining emotional, spiritual and psychological residue from losing a breast.
  • And always, to Douglas Molin, who lights my life daily, whether we are near or far from each other. I am so grateful for your support and unending belief in and love for me.



  1. Annei says:

    Simply wonderful! Wonderful to read. Wonderful to view. I love the read palette, circles and lines from the yarn. It all looked fabulous! Congrats, my friend! So proud of all the you have been able to accomplish artistically and personally! Sending much love, A.

  2. Constance Pierce says:

    Congratulations, Melanie! ~ Beautiful installation, too. ~

    I did not realize the back-story. I don’t know how I missed this, but I did.
    I am overwhelmed now at your strength and creative energy amidst such a challenge.
    I am so glad you are well now and that you weathered it all with such grace and faith.
    So proud I know you! Sending you love and embracing your soul with grateful prayer.

  3. Sharon Claffey says:

    Amazing!! Truly.

  4. Judy Steinberg says:

    Congratulations on the exhibition and residency. The show is beautiful. I had not read the entry before now. I don’t think that I can express myself any better than Constance did, so please know that is exactly how I feel. You are an inspiring individual and we are all fortunate to know you!

  5. Lori Landau says:

    Oh my God Melanie, this is extraordinarily moving! (As a longtime meditator), I GET it and I feel the energy and emotion and humanity in your work. It transmits! The energy within is palpable and carries the story from your heart to mine. Be well and thrive…..

  6. Mary mchugh says:

    Your raw and deep connection to your process of healing is so beautifully powerful! Thank you for sharing. You have touched my heart and opened my eyes to go deeper! Peace and enjoy this residency after such a accomplishment!

  7. This – “In gathering all of this together, sitting with it for the past two weeks, I feel like I can let it go and move forward. This will always be part of me, but will not define me.” – THIS is my favorite part. I can’t wait to see the show next week!

  8. cheryl hochberg says:

    ah, sorry I asked for more pictures and they’re here. Amazing you got this in place so fast! It just took me going away so you weren’t distracted! 🙂
    Looks really interesting. Wish I could be there in person!

  9. I am so very proud of you as an artist, and as a friend. You are beautiful inside and out.

  10. Addy Gale says:

    The show looks fantastic! Isn’t the Sottoportego wonderful for installations? Congratulations to you and much love from me

  11. Kathleen says:

    Thank you for sharing with Us. A beautiful installation, in a beautiful place,by a beautiful and loving woman. A beautiful and new beginning! Our love reaches out to You!

  12. Congratulations on your massive accomplishments, Melanie! I had no idea about the backstory, but knowing now, I am awed by your grace, sincerity, and willingness to share your story through words and images.
    Funny how that Parkinson’s Law works, isn’t it? It’s pretty perfect that you were required to put the show up right away so that you can be free to explore new paths, sites, sensations, and feelings! I hope you enjoy yourself immensely, art maker, visionary force, amazing woman that you are! As always, you’re rocking it! Xo

  13. Penne T says:

    Wow- what a inspiring installation and exhibition. Congratulations on pulling such a complex exhibit together in just two weeks! It has been a wonderful discovery to find you, learn about you and gather insights from your blog, which I learned about through a book arts artist. Thank you. Lucky you to go off exploring, having this project complete. Kudos!

  14. tara says:

    Ah Melanie – a gorgeous show. Wish I could see it in person. I am interested in the book! Looks amazing. Can’t wait to hear more about it. Congratulations. xxx

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