Melissa Smedley produces works of performance, sculpture, and installation while inquiring about the tools we employ to mediate our relationship to "nature". Smedley resided in Southern California from 1989 - 2006 and has been exhibited at the California Center for The arts, Escondido, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego Museum of Art, Mesa College Gallery, and the Insite festivals of '92 and '94.
Smedley, along with Mathieu Gregoire and Ante Marinovic, received a public art commission from Denver's Metropolitan Stadium District in 2001. Called "Equipment Field", the team created a series of seven sculptures of cast aluminum and Colorado Yule Marble, which activate the walking experience toward the stadium's West entrance. Gateway plaza's sculptural forms are based on the equipment worn to play the game of football: portions of the objects are tremendously blown up in scale, engaging spectators in a discovery process.
Smedley is currently working on a commission for a private developer in San Diego's Port District. The art will feature three large bronze sculptures for a waterfront plaza based on common knots used in fishing and sailing.
From The Sketchbook
I'm liking craftsmanship and knowhow. Practicality.
met fishermen with frayed sleeves and shiney topsider types with anchor embroidery on belt. I go to the Seachest and see sunburned outboard motors strapped to a dollie. And a whole corner of old propellers in a pile
all patinad with life Knots and line and net and rope and splices and broken veins and old tatoos. And steering columns and stacks of lobster traps roped together and heaps of cable strewn with sinew.
I meet the man who fixes nets and talks and talks while he fixes with a knife dangling around his neck and worn smooth fingers. Shows me how to do this and that and burn the end of the rope with the torch, smooth out the melted center with a coke bottletop. We discuss the economy, the envronment, kids-these-days, history of the area, real harpoon fishing and wars he's been in. He's got a dog that watches over it all with a stick in his mouth and scratches himself plenty. Heaps and heaps and heaps of nets waiting to be unspun and found out about and rewoven and fixed and rehung.
Ancient Inca's are said to have had a language comprised of knots. Called khipu, they kept records and told stories with them.
Knots are honest and trustworthy. You follow the instructions and it works. Or you deipher the picture. Or you hold the knot in your hand and you follow the way like a good friend. They get you there. Knots reveal their path but you might have to work.
Knots are like math. Right or wrong or re-invented.
Transparently and patiently showing its structure.
So many voyages and discoveries and treasures and maps and spices have been charted with a dependence on knots, knots and so many knots imagined twisted and tied with time hands over generations perhaps even in the absence of loved ones on long wet days and nights by the light of the whale blubber lamps.