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Melinda Steffy Exhibit at Finlandia

Hancock - January 21, 2010

Finlandia University is currently hosting an art exhibit at the Gallery, which is located at the Finnish America Heritage in Hancock. The month long exhibit which opened on January 11th features the work of Artist Melinda Steffy.

Thursday evening the University hosted an opening reception for the Philadelphia Artist. Steffy gave a talk to  the audience gathered there to view the exhibit.

Steffy’s art consists of a variety media, painting, textiles and a variety of other objects.

According to the artist, her wok draws inspiration from her interests in memory, mythology, alchemy, geology, family history, and music. The artist explains the details of her work in the video below.


video above - Artist addresses the audience

Carrie Flaspohler, director of the Finlandia University Gallery, notes that the poetry of Steffy’s work lies in her ability to translate philosophical concepts into visually complex and abstract compositions. The materials she chooses to use in her art-making are an integral part of the finished piece.
 “For me,” Steffy says, “untraditional or re-used materials carry with them meaning from their previous lives or original purposes, and so add conceptual complexity to artwork.”

To enhance the meaning of the materials she uses, Steffy makes her own dyes and pigments from plants, nuts, and spices, which often have medicinal properties or applications beyond their common uses. Steffy states that the tediousness of the paint-making process, as with the stitching, sewing, papermaking, and other repetitive tasks required in her artwork, invests her even more deeply in her art.

This exhibit is, in part, a look into the nature of her grandfather’s memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease. “Memory defines who we are,” reflects Steffy. “As my grandfather gradually lost his memory, he also lost his gentle personality, his confident identity, his profound sense of purpose. The small, vivid details that formed his life diminished to minuscule pinpoints surrounded by a vast blankness of forgetting.”

“I imagine him sitting in a stark white room watching helplessly as the once familiar scenes around him are slowly erased, leaving behind only a few incongruous and meaningless objects—the memory remnants of a once vibrant life.” 
 “I like the word ‘remnants’,” says Steffy of the exhibit’s title. “They’re fragments that you’re rescuing from a former life. What they were used for in that previous life is somehow being carried through. It’s not the end of the story.”
above - Fable (Loss and Its Recovery)
  Included in the Finlandia University exhibit are the compositions: “Fable (Loss and Its Recovery),” with more than 350 found barrettes on individual paper pieces stitched together by the artist;

“Fugue (Grandmother’s Favorite),” featuring ink drawings on paper hand-made from 80-year-old sheet music; and “Aubade (Mnemosyne Sings),” comprising nine five-foot-square canvas panels dyed vibrant yellow using turmeric.

above - Aubade (Mnemosyne Sings)
  “The repetition and the monotony, even though I may cringe at them, become ritual and rhythm,” she adds. “They make me part of the meaning of my work and add elements of time and spirituality.”
Introductions II (Venus Receives)
Introductions I (Maas Enters)
 Steffy received her master of fine arts degree in painting in 2006 from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia.
The Seventh Day
Ode (Hestia Travels)

Steffy’s work has been exhibited in Philadelphia at the Sam Quinn, Rosenwald-Wolf, F.U.E.L. Collection, and Highwire art galleries. It has also been shown at Villanova (Penn.) University; William Paterson University, Wayne, N.J.; the MicroMuseum, Brooklyn, N.Y.; the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington; and the Lancaster (Penn.) Museum of Art. Her mural, “In Remembrance,”, hangs at the Tshwane Leadership Foundation in Pretoria, South Africa.

Four Corners
Marking Passage of Time
Untitled (Solitary)
Three Thousand Daughters
The Beauty of Memory
All That Remains
In Search of Stone (Solid Form)
Funeral March