Mom and Dad, 2019
Collage, found objects, light, paint, wax crayon, wood.
36.5" x 40" x 2"
Paint, clay, ink, copper.
14.5" x 13" x 1.5"
Found objects, fabric, oil paint, wood.
34" x 38" x 6"
Stern relates her artistic process to the work of a handyperson “cobbling together drawings and sculptures from elements found, borrowed, and imagined." She views her sculptures as three-dimensional drawings and her drawings as two-dimensional sculptures. “I don’t understand why painters stop at the edge," Stern notes. "I think you should just keep going.” The tableaux depicted in Stern’s paintings on wood often extend beyond the front of the panel to the sides and back of the support. She describes her figures as "refusing to be boxed in."
Stern's background enccompasses both anthropology and studio art. Her works reflect the influence of non-Western art, as well as a prevailing interest in personal and collective memory and the translation of memory into narrative. Describing the figures in her works as “little people who live in my head,” the artist encourages viewers to realize intimate connections with the people and scenes depicted.
Stern's evokes somber themes such as anger, disappointment and loneliness, but an undercurrent of humor persists. She comments that, “Viewers who look at my work tend to initially think it’s funny. People who look a bit longer begin to think it’s really dark. And people who look a again may realize that it is both funny and dark."
Melissa Stern (b. Philadelphia, PA) Stern is an artist and writer based in New York City. Working in sculpture, assemblage, painting, drawing, collage, and digital media, Stern address matters of philosophy, politics, history, gender, and memory in her artwork. Recent solo exhibitions include Garvey Simon Gallery (NY); The Kranzberg Center for Contemporary Art (, St. Louis, MO); Station Independent Projects (NY); and The Weisman Art Museum (Minneapolis, MN). Stern is a contributing writer for Hyperallergic. Previously, she served as principal art critic for The New York Press. She was curator of the Human Rights Film Festival from 2008 to 2015. Stern’s art has been featured in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and New York Arts. Her multi-media installation exhibition, The Talking Cure, has been traveling to museums around the United States since 2012.