Fellow: Awarded 2021
Field of Study: Fine Arts
Competition: US & Canada
Any conversation about painting would have to include the activities of looking and thinking, two skills I first learned from my mother. She taught me to look slowly, both at the natural world and the built one, with curiosity. Influenced by the builders and crafters in my extended family, I linked this visual engagement to the act of making, and grew up understanding hand labor as an indicator of individual agency and expression.
My paintings connect vernacular architecture and craft with the visual language of abstraction. While my early works reference needlework, textile history and personal memory; my process has evolved to include a larger conversation about the spatial psychology of domestic architecture. Materially, I've developed an expanded painting practice that includes large-scale, site-specific installations in institutions and unconventional spaces. The thread through all of this work is its reliance on pattern as an indicator of place and cultural identity.
Melissa Thorne is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (BFA, 1993) and California Institute of the Arts (MFA, 1998). She is an Assistant Professor of Studio Art at the University at Albany, SUNY.
Photo Credit: Heather Phelps-Lipton