Melina Bishop

Image by Michael Love

Central to my practice is the soft, the fluid and the undefined. I author objects that are intentionally difficult to categorize, that make someone think twice, perhaps settling finally for an “and/and” when an “either/or” is refused. The work asks for people to think with their bodies, feel with their minds, converse in silent languages. Sometimes the work is slippery. It wants to be felt as it slides through fingers rather than caught and analyzed. It often pushes up against utilitarianism but then, through unorthodox material choices and abstraction of form, doesn’t meet expectations. 

I employ a specific kind of abstraction, tied to a history of female sculptors, which Jenni Sorkin describes in her essay Five Propositions on Abstract Sculpture as “a sensitivity to the texture and tactility of objects and a disquieting intensity devoted to the process of making them.” Formal abstraction is also a method of denying literalism and asking for alternative understandings of objects, materials and their relationship to the human. The work encourages the rejection of assumptions about what an object is or does. Extended further, I strive to create forms that can serve as tools for fostering the kind of thinking that challenges hierarchical, exclusionary “norms” within society and culture.

 Over the course of my MFA, my work has transformed and evolved in terms of scale, color and process. Yet many of the key conceptual concerns and intentions have remained consistent. I am still interested in the relationships between human bodies and everyday objects. I am still exploring materiality as a form of language. I am still invested in haptic experience, in visceral reactions and in creating a kind of ambiguity that is inviting rather than alienating. This new work welcomes multiple different encounters, reactions and emergent meanings. It pushes up against utilitarianism and formally makes reference to elements of daily life— a table, a shelf, a bowl, a chair.

All of these sculptures originated in the corner of the kitchen of my small apartment where I lived alone during a year of social isolation. In March of 2020, when the first of the COVID lockdowns took place, I moved materials from my studio to the cabinets in my kitchen and started working with what was available and easy to transform with simple processes and tools— foam, plaster, paper. The loneliness of this time made me fall in love with my practice again. With nearly all my human contact mediated by a screen and disembodied, I channeled my physicality into my art. My natural inclination towards care and affection had no human or animal subjects and therefore I became even more invested in the lively-yet-inanimate.

Image by Michael Love
Image by Michael Love

Award Recipient

  • Governor General Gold Medal

Honourable Mention

  • Opus Art Supplies Graduation MFA
  • Renée Van Halm + Pietro Widmer Graduation Award for Visual Arts

Melina Bishop

Melina Bishop is a sculptor and installation artist from the United States. She has shown independently with Vignettes at Generations (Seattle,WA) and her work has been included in group exhibitions at Praxis Fiber Gallery (Cleveland, OH), Soil Gallery (Seattle, WA), Surplus Space, Rubus Discolor Project and galleryHOMELAND (Portland, OR). She was a 2016 resident artist at the Icelandic Textile Center (Blönduós, IS) and a member of the studio collective Neighbors at the Yale Union (Portland, OR) from 2015 to 2019. She graduated from Oregon College of Art and Craft with a BFA in Fibers in 2015 and will graduate with an MFA in Visual Art from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in May 2021. During her time at Emily Carr she served as a Community Programs Research Assistant and helped to plan In Touch: Graduate Research Symposium.
Profile image of Melina Bishop