Melissa Shanley

melissashanley's picture
Neighborhood: Richmond

The detail of texture has always been the most important aspect of my work. Tools and mediums are used in the service of expressing texture, and ultimately to express silence. We tend to overlook a detail which brings us back to that silence, momentarily. My work connects the viewer to that detail. The abstraction is necessary in order to loose the overall story from which the detail comes. If we try to figure out where the detail came from, we loose ourselves to the story.

The purpose of my work is to bring the viewer in closer than they would consider venturing alone... to a detail. Whether they are willing to recognize and stay with that detail, that moment, that abstracted beauty, is left to the viewer to decide. The work and the silence remain. My subjects are natural, yet urban, the content of a life lived in San Francisco and Northern Europe. ​

I experimented with the camera very early in my career as an artist, while focusing on texture and textile abstractions. It then accompanied me for years in my daily life as "sketchbook" for other work. However, years ago, and thousands of images later, my camera has ultimately pulled me back into an intimacy with my abstractions which I can get with no other medium. I create texture using natural light and avoiding editing. I am most satisfied when a subject has so completely communicated with me in the moment that no editing is required. To create a unique abstraction, the resulting capture is mounted only once, on aluminum panel. A contemporary connection is thus created with the composition without obstruction of frame or glass.

Exploring the translation of abstracted images onto textile, I also create experiential sculpture and installation: the goal being to follow the “line” in a subject to the silence which can result. Marin Museum of Contemporary Art exhibited two of my installations using this process, during my residency there. The beauty of line is magnified and concentrated in this interactive medium, bringing the viewer close, to question what is being seen.