Graduate Alumni > Advanced Fiber Studio (Highlights)

Melissa Leandro (Fall 2011)
Melissa Leandro (Fall 2011)
"Subtle Light"
Dyed Foam Batting

My work aims to create a visual diary of the struggles involved with being an “other”. In my practice, I manipulate materials such as felt, fabric, foam, paper, plaster and wire to make objects that reference this disconnection.

My artwork is very much tied to my cultural upbringing as a first generation American. Although I was born and raised in the United States, my ethnicity is Costa Rican. As I experience life through the perspective of a Latin American female, I have kept many of my cultural traditions intact, yet I have unavoidably become “Americanized”. I constantly struggle between two very dissimilar cultures; through my own experience of being transplanted into a new city, as well as my family immigrating to the United States. I am interested in how individuals cope with relocation or new situations. Resultantly, the underlining themes in my work focus on the way minorities live in the U.S. with regards to the clear inconsistencies on standards of living which can be seen in the quality of our education, food, housing, and economic standing.
Drawing from my own personal histories and interactions, I frequently introduce my family members, utilizing their experiences as source material. Observing those closest to me, I record audio captured from my daily life. The act of collaging sounds and dialog allows myself to investigate significant topics that I may then openly address to my audience. I pair these audio works with sculptural components that foster bits of my own sentimental attachments. My materials tend to connote a warm domestic feeling, due to both a natural palette and rounded forms. I aim to bridge the connection between texture, domesticity, and growing up in a minority household. Together, these elements create an environment through installation upon which the viewer may journey through a new perspective.