Melissa Shanley

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My work asks the viewer to stop and investigate details of daily life, revealed in the silence of abstraction, while focusing on the texture of line.   A translated understanding of a subject not previously acknowledged is the result.

The Artist in Residence position I was awarded at the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, allowed me the time, space and focus to explore my work with a more political focus. The current exhibit, “My”, first came to mind about a year and a half ago during the absence of response to the Access Hollywood tapes. I felt alone and immobilized with the echoing of my own experiences. I began to talk to other women and understand almost every one I spoke to felt similarly.

I thought through the decision process each woman must make, every day, consciously or unconsciously, about how much to reveal of herself in the world… about how much is to be seen, what is real, what is veiled, as contemporary women struggle to decide what is their own and what is to be revealed. I wanted to present images which make us conscious about that daily choice in a very concrete way— images of the female body, after thought about how much to reveal.

Whether we admit it or not, whether we talk about it or not, we know the climate we live in and we have adjusted. Although this body work was birthed prior #Me Too, Truth Tellers and powerful men beginning to become accountable, the conversation has only just begun to be allowed in our culture. We can continue to have it— or not. My hope is that this exhibit furthers that conversation.

For this purpose, I chose to use my own aging body as subject in order to make the risk personal and real. I also did not want to slide into the common objectification of women by using a model and making the story about someone else. I used my detailed abstraction style to capture overlooked details not previously acknowledged or valued. They are printed in a fairly raw format, on paper without glass or frame, then printed again on silk hanging in front of its identical image. In doing so, I am asking the viewer to question what they are seeing, why it is being hidden and whether it is really being hidden at all.

With this exhibit, I encourage the conversation of women-- choices and how much we choose or risk to reveal-- to continue. I encourage those of you having that conversation—All of You— to contact me at my website, if you choose to reveal your thoughts. I will be incorporating that continuing conversation into the next evolution of this exhibit with voices and further images. I welcome you to be a part of it.