Artist Melissa Joseph Reflects on Weaving it All Together

For this interview series, we sat down with the artists of “Intrinsic” – an exhibition on view at The Yard, Williamsburg Bridge in 2020 – to gain insights into their practice and learn more about what inspires them and the background informing the artworks they had on view in the exhibit (visible on the “Intrinsic” exhibition page on Antecedent Projects.) Artist Melissa Joseph shared her reflections on how her work with textiles and fiber art has evolved, the images her work expresses and the projects she is tackling end of 2020/start of 2021!

(Above work: New Wefts (2019) by Melissa Joseph, Inkjet print on Indian duppioni silk, twine, found stones and yarn. 24 x 24 x 2″)

Above work, “When the penpal came from England with Annalee” by Melissa Joseph
Wet felted wool and sari silk
5x 6 in
2020

ANTE mag. For “Intrinsic” at The Yard, Williamsburg Bridge, you featured works embracing a range of processes, including weaving and working with felt. Can you talk to us about the range of processes you engage with and how these have developed in your practice?

Melissa Joseph. I understand the world through materials.  I use intuition and my image archive as points of inspiration and reference, and then filter them through media, often textiles and fibers.  I feel a deep connection to natural fibers, stone, and heavy metals more than other materials.  They always find their way into my work.  I admire weaving, but I am a novice and it makes my brain work in a different way than it usually does.  It’s a way to explore structure and have less control over the final product than I normally do.  I like to challenge myself with things like this from time to time, but I will always return to the ways of making that feel more natural for me.   


ANTE mag. Can you tell us about your recent work in residency with the Textile Arts Center and your recent exhibition there?

Melissa Joseph. The Textile Arts Center is an amazing place.  It allows for play, skill-building, experimentation and growth.  It is also the most supportive and empathetic community I have ever encountered.  I was able to try several ways of making and in the end, I landed on felting.  It was a way to paint with fiber, and I loved it right away!  From the name to the process itself, it reflects the themes of my practice and personality.  In my most recent exhibition there, I showed a collection of felt works alongside some found objects that I have collected.  Any image-based work I make is always related to the emotions of the materials. 

Above image, “Mary Aunty’s wedding to Thankachan Uncle” by Melissa Joseph
Wet felted wool in hydrocal with embroidery mirrors
8 x 10 x 1.5
2020


ANTE mag. What aspects of your practice have you been deepening during lockdown and quarantine in recent times? Have you embarked on new projects, series or processes?

Melissa Joseph. I am a double Capricorn, which might not mean much to some people, but to some it might explain how much I have thrown myself so fully into my practice during quarantine.  It’s partly a survival mechanism, but it’s also a way to process some of the things that are going on.  I really only started felting in March, so it’s been a covid-tinged discovery.  I am in the middle of a pretty deep dive with it, trying to see where it can go.  


ANTE mag. What upcoming projects can you share with us that are in the pipeline?

Melissa JosephI am excited to share that I am curating a few shows late 2020/early 2021.  One is at a gallery called Shelter in Place.  The gallery is 1/12 scale, so all the artworks are tiny.  Another will be online through the Textile Arts Center.  More info on shows I’m participating in and my curatorial projects on my Instagram, @melissajoseph_art . I am also a Video Artist in Residence at BRIC Media House in Brooklyn, so I am trying out some animation and video software right now that I hope will lead to something cool eventually!

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