When you come into the studio you might find Melina Bishop in her white work shirt, experiments on the ground, hands messy. Or she may be hunched over her desk with headphones in, working on a seemingly endless embroidery. Sometimes she’s simply writing, or rearranging the objects on her desk; museum postcards, scissors, books, her pencil sharpener next to a row of pencils—an army of tiny things laid out in the corner by the window.
Many of our conversations are had as we each sit in our studio chairs, turned around so we face each other. It was probably here that she first mentioned a residency in Iceland. (Then a far distant possibility.) At the time I probably said something like, “That sounds cool,” as the conversation moved to something else. But looking back, Iceland is a particular choice for someone like Melina. To say that she’s social would be a bit of an understatement, she’s the kind of woman whose presence radiates in a large group, intensifies in a small one. Either way, she feels like the sun. Going to Iceland didn’t mean total isolation, but it did mean leaving behind a community of artists and friends. Isolation from the familiar. Learning to be the sun for oneself.
This deliberate choice has made itself evident in this new body of work, Soft Logics. Weavings are connected with thin threads to panels, broken orbs are laid out and filled with sand, fabric is pieced together to form the vague shape of a garment, stains are covered with fresh clean embroidery. Everywhere, in each of these pieces, there is a sense of taking broken things and making them new. Not fixing them, or idolizing what they were, but using the broken pieces to construct a new object altogether.
Walking around the show, I made a hasty mind map. The word human branches out and connects to forms, clothing, skin, body. Loose threads connects to patchwork, which connects to covered, cleaned, corrected, connection, attempted, which reaches out to longing. Another note scratched down on the next page simply reads: Outgrowing shells and abandoning them.
It’s this thought I most see in Soft Logics, although perhaps “relinquish” would be a better word. For it’s not abandoning past shells, or past selves, but letting them go and moving forward. Growing another shell out of the same material, creating something new out of the fodder.