Melissa Meyer’s work presents viewers with an extraordinary opportunity to see the energy of movement preserved on canvas. Her affinity for vibrant color often feels celebratory, occasionally foreboding, and always delivered with brushstrokes that communicate the tension of a coiled spring. From her text-like, yet indecipherable, compositions come mysterious messages as stories built of color and form that supplant the need for recognizable symbols.
Melissa Meyer approaches her paintings as a dance. Viewing her canvasses from above gives her the freedom to navigate the perimeters as she improvises. She rejects the term Action Painting to describe her, but her good friend, the late painter and teacher Thomas Nozkowski, called her unique method “painting without a net.” Though her work emerges from activity and movement, upon viewing her oeuvre, it can seem to be a meditation or an inquiry into what it is to revisit shapes and lines because similar iterations appear repeatedly. Though without marked conclusion, one always feels it could be around the next corner—compelling us to keep looking while always being presented with something new to contemplate.
In addition to works that incorporate a lot of color, Meyer has created a sizable collection of black and white pieces. In the ten-year period between 1984 and 1994, she replicated the colorful work she’d done earlier in the day in black and white in order to examine and better understand its structure. Her artistic exploration has also taken her into working with watercolors, in which she has foregone the use of white paint entirely, using the whiteness of the paper instead.
In 1977, the feminist pioneer of the art world, Miriam Schapiro invited Meyer to collaborate with her on a famously seminal article called Femmage. Since then Meyer has received two National Endowment for the Arts grants and two Pollack-Krasner Foundation grants. She has also been awarded attendance to multiple residencies including at The Provincetown Workshop in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, New York, The MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire, Bau Institute at Camargo, Cassis France, and Fondazione Bogliasco, Genova, Italy.
Meyer has executed multiple commissions world-wide including at the Penninsula Hotel in Shanghai, for Lincoln Center in New York, a ceramic tile mural titled “Counterparts,” commissioned for the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and others.
.Her work is included in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, all in New York, as well as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and The Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer is also responsible for the Shiodome City Center Murals in Tokyo, Japan. Her work is also included in the collection of the Mills College Art Museum in Oakland, California, The Rose Art Museum in Waltham, Massachusetts, and others.