February 15, 2023
Script by Gallery & Curatorial Fellow Calla Savelson
This piece is titled Punch the Sky Twins. The inspiration for this work came from Melanie learning how to make a sphere from a deflated basketball. If you look closely, you can see the stitching lines that appear on a basketball, and you can imagine the deflated nature of it being old and well-loved. The form is held by the canvas-lined interior, and a fabric-lined exterior with the simulated image of the sky that we see in much of Melanie’s work. Though canvas-lined, it is easily malleable and will transform based on its position or how it is manipulated. What you see in front of you is the product of Melanie actually punching the work with her fist to create an indent.
As you can see, Melanie’s main medium is fabric. Fabric is tangible, it takes up space, and it’s a part of all of our lives. Melanie sees this connection between fabric and humans, and as we wear it on our bodies, it comes to represent us. The slumped, deflated fabric you see in front of you represents depression, a very real, and universal emotion.
The deliberate placement of this piece, being hung at stomach height, creates a reflection of the viewer’s own body. When I stand it in front of this piece, it evokes a visceral reaction as I view a mirror image of my stomach, this piece of fabric that I somehow see myself in, getting punched in the gut. Can you feel it as well?
The title –Punch the Sky Twins– is also very deliberate. The pregnant belly has always been a part of Melanie’s life. She grew up one of ten siblings, her mother worked as a maternity ward nurse, and while she was creating this piece she was donating her eggs to her sister for IVF treatment. So, at the same time as feeling the depression of the slumped body, Melanie is also full of life, constantly watching life appear around her and helping bring life into the world. But sadly, this joy also brings great anxiety. Melanie’s work is full of themes of climate change, waste management, resource scarcity, growing old, and questions about the future. During our conversation with Melanie, the problem of the baby formula shortage came up. This is a resource necessary to our society, as caregivers rely on it to feed their children. We found ourselves asking the question: What is the future going to look like if we can’t even feed our children?
The bodily connection that Melanie creates forces us to reflect on our own lives, our own anxieties, and how life is punching us in the gut. It also makes us question what future generations will look like in the reality of climate change.