Art for the Situation
Melissa Smedley is an artist, writer, and educator currently based in Salinas, California. Whether designing public sculpture, inventing performances, blogging, video-making, or teaching, her goal is to engage art through the performance of everyday life: to create, discover and transmit art, in a great variety of forms.
She received her undergraduate education at Brown University and continued with her MFA at UCSD in 1993.
Smedley served as a lecturer at CSU Monterey Bay, UCSD, and SouthWestern College in the San Diego region.
Melissa Smedley is a multi-media artist activist who works in sculpture, video, performance and written word – creating what she calls “Art for the Situation”. In so doing, she aspires to be a living sculpture.
Since 2010, Smedley has served as the “The Art Ranger” at The Department of Homeland Inspiration currently in the form of a podcast. She specializes in the discovery of “art” in daily life, as well as commenting on various absurd conditions that may surround us. Starting out as a blog, Art Ranger stumbles upon visual joy and pairs it with words.
Smedley grew up in Denver, Colorado, received her undergraduate education at Brown University, and her MFA at UCSD. She has lived the rest of her adult life in California with her husband and two children. For the past decade, she also runs Artist At Large Consulting, implementing public art in affordable housing communities; “more art to more people” as she calls this coordinating work.
Currently she is working on two collaborative visual and social practice projects. Courage Within Women Without Shelter with three other women artists, Dora Lisa Rosenbaum, Amanda Salm, and Denese Sanders. This project is focused on homeless women in the in the Monterey Area and has involved teaching a series of art workshops with the women in preparation for an exhibition at the Monterey Museum of Art (in 2022) to raise awareness of this particular struggle through art.
Land Relief, is a collaboration based in King City with collaborator Nanette Yannuzzi Macias. This project will unfold over the next year at Lesnini Field with California artist Erik Bakke. This unique venue was featured in the MC Weekly January 2020. “Lesnini Field is a on the banks of the Salinas River. It is 55 acres of wild land being both preserved and used for contemplation, research, and the creation of art.” Learning about this local residency opportunity coincided with a work in progress by the two that was inspired by a gigantic book full of maps and charts published by the US Department of Agriculture in 1936.
MELISSA SMEDLEY – Artist at-Large
The Department of Homeland Inspiration — a podcast
EXHIBITIONS and PERFORMANCE
GOOD AND MAD: Pre-election Pop Up, Open Ground Studios, Seaside, CA November 2018.
Powerama: Spoken word, sculptural performance, PGAC, October 5, 2018.
DesEscondido: California Center for the Arts, Escondido: group; Public Address September 2018.
MAD2: With Critical Ground at Pacific Grove Art Center, September – November 2018
Storming The Wall: interactive performance with Todd Ayoung, Doris Bittar, sponsored by CAMP: Center for Migration Politics, Copenhagen, Dk. Roskilde Festival, July 2018.
Perishables: Room installation, presentations: Open Ground Studios, Seaside, CA November 2017.
Funerals for Trees: Video, Monterey Youth Film Festival, April 28 – 30 2016.
Frack Age: Video and performance at the Unruly Engagement Conference: Cleveland Institute of Art, November 2014.
M/otherwork: Open Ground Studios, April 2014, Seaside California.
Labor/ Migrant/ Gulf: Southwestern College Gallery, March 2014 San Diego, California. A group exhibition inspired by and in solidarity with laborers worldwide.
ENACT an online exhibition: enact-artinthemind.com, part of the 25th year anniversary of the Cleveland Performance Art Festival, May 2013.
Department of Homeland inspiration: A collective video performance, CSUMB Department of Visual and Public Art, September 2007.
“The Book of Lies”: New Acquisitions, The Atheneum, La Jolla, California, March 2005.
Inventing Agriculture: Concurrent exhibition at Art Produce, and Hybrid Gallery San Diego, CA. Installation and performative sculptures, June - September 2002.
I-5 Resurfacing - Four Decades of California Contemporary Art: San Diego Museum of Art Video (samples), April 2002.
Off Broadway: (Group) Museum of Contemporary Art, Downtown, San Diego, CA, February 2000.
Paratools: (Solo) Mesa College Art Gallery, San Diego, CA January 2000.
Artist At Large Consulting - an art implementation service. We write proposals, source artists, manage jury process, artist contracts, and construction of public art projects as well as coordinate participatory art experiences for the general public. 2011 – present.
Knots in Bronze: The Wharf at Point Loma - Three bronze sculptures in plaza, San Diego Port District. Installation January, 2009.
The Leaf: A conversation in bronze, May 2006. Ellis Atrium, Sonoma, California.
Equipment Field: A series of seven sculptures installed at Denver Broncos: Sports Authority Field, August 2001, collaborators: Mathieu Gregoire, Ante Marinovic.
CSUMB: Lecturer with the Department of Visual and Public Art, VPA
Fall 2010 – 2016: Courses: Beginning Sculpture 2010, 2012, 2014, Advanced Sculpture 2010, Digital Public Art 2011-2012, Art for Teachers 2013-2015, Ways of Seeing 2014, Street Art Excavations -2015.
First Year Seminar, CSUMB: Youth Power and Protest, 2013-2016.
University of California, San Diego, UCSD:
Visiting Scholar, Department of Visual Art: Drawing, Media Sketchbook, Fiction and Allegory in Contemporary Media Practice, 1999-2006.
Southwestern College, Chula Vista, California: Visiting Lecturer: 3-D Design, 2001-2003.
Local Artist Ties the Knots: “The Californian”, by Dave Norstrand, December 13, 2008.
Adjusting the View by Robert Pincus, “The San Diego Union Tribune”, December 27, 2001.
Special Team: Local artists score big with sculpture at Denver Stadium, by Robert Pincus, “The San Diego Union Tribune”, June 25, 2001.
Contemporary Quirkiness. ‘Off Broadway’ is broad enough to get to know the artists, by Robert Pincus “The San Diego Union Tribune”, February 24, 2000.
Reviews – New York, by Faye Hirsch “Art Forum International”, October 1995.
Pilgrims & Pop Pioneers, “New Observations” #108 September/October.
That Very Human Enterprise, by Leah Ollman “Los Angeles Times”, June 3, 1995.
Installation Gallery, Insite '94 catalog, September 1995.
California Center for the Arts Museum, California in Three Dimensions, Catalog, May 1995.
Zany Magic, by Ann Jarmusch “The San Diego Union Tribune”, October 9, 1994.
Brown University, Visual Art Department, BA 1984.
University of California at San Diego, M.F.A. in Visual Arts, 1993.
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, 1985.