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Stern relates her artistic process to the work of a handyperson “cobbling together drawings and sculptures from elements found, borrowed, and imagined."  She views her sculptures as three-dimensional drawings and her drawings as two-dimensional sculptures. “I don’t understand why painters stop at the edge," Stern notes. "I think you should just keep going.” The tableaux depicted in Stern’s paintings on wood often extend beyond the front of the panel to the sides and back of the support. She describes her figures as "refusing to be boxed in."

Stern's background enccompasses both anthropology and studio art. Her works reflect the influence of non-Western art, as well as a prevailing interest in personal and collective memory and the translation of memory into narrative. Describing the figures in her works as “little people who live in my head,” the artist encourages viewers to realize intimate connections with the people and scenes depicted. 

Clay, wood, paint, sculpture

Housebound, 2019

Clay, wood, paint.

23" x 10" x 9"

Charcoal, oil paint

My Hair, 2019

Charcoal, oil paint.

18" x 22"

Charcoal, graphite, oil paint

My House, 2019

Charcoal, graphite, oil paint.

44" x 46"

Stern's evokes somber themes such as anger, disappointment and loneliness, but an undercurrent of humor persists. She comments that, “Viewers who look at my work tend to initially think it’s funny.  People who look a bit longer begin to think it’s really dark.  And people who look a again may realize that it is both funny and dark."


Melissa Stern - Artists - Malin Gallery

Melissa Stern (b. Philadelphia, PA) is an artist, critic, journalist, curator, and educator residing in New York City. Her multi-media installation exhibition, The Talking Cure, has been traveling to museums around the United States since 2012.

Recent solo exhibitions include Garvey Simon Gallery (New York, NY); The Kranzberg Center for Contemporary Art (St. Louis, MO); Station Independent Projects (New York, NY); The Weisman Art Museum (Minneapolis, MN); The University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL); and Redux Contemporary Art Center (Charleston, SC).

Her works reside in the permanent collections of JP Morgan, The American Museum of Ceramic Art, News Corporation, The Arkansas Art Center, The Racine Art Museum,  and The Kohler Corporation.

Stern serves as a contributing writer for Hyperallergic. Previously, she served as principal art critic for The New York Press. She is a past Board Director of The Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC and Watershed Center in Maine. She was contributing curator of the Human Rights Film Festival from 2008 to 2015.

Stern’s art has been cited in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Hyperallergic, and New York Arts.

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