heading into the second-half-of-life, i came to making art unknowingly, and most surprisedly. prior, life had asked other things of me, and i was its faithful servant. it served me and my family well until it didn’t. then i found myself in a kind of wilderness for a while, turning many stones and asking questions much like the bird in one of my favorite children's books, Are You My Mother: trying to find myself the right kind of work-home. not knowing left me feeling unmoored, unstructured, and less than purposeful. a friend’s invitation in response to my quilt making and love of textile offered an unsuspected new playground. one thing lead to another as i leaned into the possibility —even if incredulous. (faithfulness has its own rewards).
explaining any particular piece of work can defeat the authority that anyone else might bring to the encounter —it is infinitely more interesting to learn how a
piece might strike the viewer, when seen initially through the lens of his/her own experience and imagination. the titles are suggestive of direction and intention - i am happy to share however, if asked. some of the work arrived wholly formed, and other pieces led me on, bit by stingy bit. some of it clearly about the namable, and some about the unnamable. you take what you can get. the theme of this show - the experience of being a woman- has resonated beyond measure and helped me to see that i could work for a long time mining from this particular vein. it is after all where i live. the absence and presence of the Women in my life has been and will remain a powerful force. knowing i am just a beginner offers, in no small way, a kind of freedom of what i can and cannot do. it generously offers the important lesson of learning how to listen - which is what i think Mr. Proust is going on about. i can’t say i’ve mastered that yet. progress not perfection, i tell myself.
at some point i realized that this affair began long ago, without my realizing it. i hold my grandmothers responsible. they unknowingly planted a seed that fostered an enduring love for textile, texture, the import of relationship, and the very experience of being a woman: mohair couches, chenille bedspreads, silk scarfs, crocheted tablecloth’s, kid-leather gloves, crisp cotton line-dried sheets, delicious feeling blankets, printed housecoats, handbags, the family table, good food, a kind ear, and and and. family, necessity, community, girlfriends, sisters, mothers and others helped nurture this play —this practice. now, life’s unfolding has come more fully into focus as a continuum of small and great miracles that are new and alive in a way that i was not able to fully appreciate before. i work with the simple materials of everyday life, often including and especially its discards: newsprint, wax-paper, packaging, old texts, maps, bags, netting, fabric scraps and dinner napkins that when integrated with embroidery, machine sewing, and anything in between might conjure a dialogue that is worth listening to. things are more than the sum of their parts; and if lucky might offer some form of transformational experience. there is more satisfaction than i can express in working with these kinds of materials. i suppose this came from my folks and my in-laws being always thrifty, often creative —even if it drove me mad as a child. this work and its realization brings me out of my head where i am freed to operate more fully-present to my senses. operating from this instinctive place, i feel purposeful and connected to a deeper sense of myself. the discovery is exciting, scary and nourishing- not always in equal portion. and i am beginning to think that’s what i am after. stand by.
Melanie Ciccone was born in 1962 in Pontiac, Michigan. She studied Spanish Literature and Language at Michigan State University; has lived in Brazil, Spain, the Dominican Republic, and New York City. She currently lives with her family in Los Angeles.