Melissa Leandro
In an attempt to return to the pastoral ways, I re-hatch childhood memories, family emblems, histories, and domestic gender roles of females that I then knew to be true but have since come to question. I explore these ideas in my work through a series of mark making, a collection of symbols and landmark images. I use this inventory of images in ways that move across medias of painting, drawing, and textiles.

As a bilingual woman, language is a very important part of my practice. Spanglish is very much real, and plays a large role in how I navigate my vocabulary in my work, both with and without words. To parallel the disparity of English and Spanish, I intuitively overlay contrasting materials, like birthday balloons and dyed cotton, and find unlikely combinations of process. I weave before I melt, then I stitch and dye, to then cut and stitch. The results are fictitious landscapes that lead me out of my current reality, and form a means of escape to a world of my own creation. It is in the making of this world that I’ve begun to learn my language as an artist.

At the heart of this language is a relationship between old world techniques and new world technology. As one that experiences language as the warp and weft of a mixed culture, I see this investigation as the most worthwhile pursuit.

The investigation process often begins with a 4”x6” pen drawing that I convert into a digital file composed of weave patterns for each color and line type. This file is woven on the jacquard and takes final shape as a tapestry. When I am hand-weaving material like plastic, rubber, felt, paper, and foam, these woven strips are fused together through heat, allowing me to machine stitch over a more rigid surface. The final step is to cut away fragments of the top layers, exposing the multiple stages of the weaving. Similarly, I paint on paper with dyes and then use heat to transfer the color onto fabric or other synthetic materials. I then go back in, and machine stitch over the painting with sewing thread, changing color every few inches. Repetitive stitches act as drawn lines moving in several directions and attempt to merge with other groups of lines and simply disappear, or go around in endless circles. The work emphasizes the layering of materials and process.