My work explores the life of the art object, building a visual dialog that extends from the internal to the external by testing the limits of narrative that exists not only within the work, but extending beyond it through process and intervention. Artifacts are created and eroded as weather, time and human interaction raise questions regarding the nature of external forces upon the artifact in the formation of its present history.
There is a fascinating paradox that occurs when confronted with ruins. Our thinking must split into two paths–one that leads us backward in time and another that travels forward, but these paths must be wandered upon simultaneously. The result may then be the creation of a complex alternative present.
We travel, perhaps great distances, to view the fragmented structures of past wonders, searching out a sense of our own identity in relation to time, recalling some Romantic notion of picturesque decline, in some attempt to reconnect ourselves with the earth. At the same time, we must reinvent these fragments that stand physically before us, searching out an imagined past which leads us into an invented future. Ruins point us toward a distorted world in which even what is now new will outlive us in some form of odd decay for other generations to translate.
It is these “translations” and reinterpretations of the artifact that my current work explores. These fragments are leftovers of a more public history, which we then make personal through our own contemporary experience. The work is layered in many senses–physically and conceptually–forming a narrative of struggle, of continuation and transformation through time. The ruin is a site from which life has departed, but the sense of its former occupation remains. There is a fullness that can be felt as we find ourselves in a constantly transforming continuum that is experienced in the present.
Melissa Furness received her MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Iowa with minors in both sculpture and printmaking. Furness’ work has been most influenced by her experiences of travel, which have included artist’s residencies in the countries of China, Mexico, Hungary, Poland and Ireland, as well as those in the U.S. at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, California and the Corporation of Yaddo in upstate New York. These experiences have inspired the strain of her current work in painting and installation, which is influenced by history and infused with personal narrative.
Furness regularly exhibits her work both national and internationally, with international group exhibitions including those in Budapest, Swansea, Florence, Lecce, Zurich, and Bulgaria. She was also selected to partipate in the 2015 Biennial of the Americas, through which she resided in Mexico City for 10 weeks as an art ambassador. The artist’s 1, 2, and 3-person U.S. exhibitions have among them those at Plus Gallery in Denver, Colorado; Archangel Gallery in Palm Springs, California; the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, Colorado; Ironton Gallery in Denver, Colorado; Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, California; the LoRiver Arts Gallery in Beacon, New York; Fish Tank Gallery in Brooklyn, New York; CoLAB Projects in New Orleans, Louisiana; and the Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven, Connecticut and others.
The artist is currently a national member of A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, New York, where she has participated in curatorial projects surrounding women in the arts. Her work has also been featured in numerous publications, amongst them Studio Visit and New American Paintings Magazines through the Open Studios Press, the Manifest Creative Research Gallery’s International Painting and Drawing Annuals, the Creative Quarterly Journal of Art and Design, and the ArtWorld Digest. Furness is an Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Colorado in Denver and has been with Artnauts since January of 2016.