Melissa Furness’ work has been most influenced by her experiences of travel, which have included artist’s residencies around the world, such as those with Jentel Arts in Wyoming; Yaddo in upstate New York; the Laznia Center of Contemporary Art in Gdansk, Poland; Shankill Castle in County Kilkenny, Ireland; Red Gate Gallery in Beijing, China; the Hungarian Multicultural Center outside of Budapest; and Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, California. Furness has participated in numerous international exhibitions, and most significantly was invited to exhibit work at the 2016 Kochi-Muziris Biennial in Kerala, India through A.I.R. Gallery of New York. The artist was also awarded a competitive fellowship to participate in the 2015 Biennial of the Americans, through which she resided in Mexico City as an Art Ambassador and exhibited a major project produced based on these experiences. She is an active member of the Artnauts Collective, through which she exhibits small works in places of contention throughout the world, including the DMZ Museum in South Korea and many other locations in order to draw attention to significant political, social and historical issues. She has also been a member of A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn as well as Pink Progression through which she has exhibited major works that have addressed feminist and gender issues.
Furness’ work has progressed up to this point from significant earlier exhibitions such as those at the Des Moines Art Center, the winning of a competitive exhibition juried by Jessica Stockholder at the Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven, Connecticut, as well as an exhibition at the Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle, Washington. Through her various residency experiences, the artist exhibited major works in Berkeley, California at the Vizivarosi and Keki Galleries and The Drawing Room HU in Budapest, Hungary and developed site specific projects in Mexico, Ireland and China. Furness’ work has been represented in the past by Lo River Arts Gallery in Beacon, New York, Fetherston Gallery in Seattle, Washington, as well as Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, in Zurich, Switzerland and Plus Gallery of Denver. Through these galleries, she was featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions as well and international art fairs in Seoul, Korea, Zurich Switzerland, and Cologne, Germany. She is currently represented by K Contemporary Art in Denver and continues to exhibit work at national and international art fairs and participates in innovative projects through her current gallery. Furness received her MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Iowa and is currently a Professor of Art Practices at the University of Colorado Denver.
I am an artist that treats painting as a conceptual object. Each series of work that I have produced is related through this conceptual exploration of the distortions of history through expressed narratives, nature and site as ruin. The work calls into question selections of what it is it that is upheld or kept and cherished versus what is discarded or thrown out and unwanted. These elements tell a story, from what a larger public or political body chooses to show to the world versus the reality of the local and personal life of a people or individual. Amongst all of this is a narrative of personal struggle expressed in ways through painting, drawing and sculptural installation processes and materials that are directed by the concept explored.
There are things that grow and thrive against one’s will–an internal and external “rooting out,” with an eventual return that becomes a cycle of time. I am both a painter of the eroding objects and nature that I observe as well as an artist that pushes the boundaries of the preciousness of such an art object by placing it into the landscape or presenting it in ways that defy the history of an artifact. Overgrowth and refuse are major themes, as I am fascinated by the way in which nature reclaims what humans build over time as well as what one discards as trash and the narrative these suggest of the life of a people, creating a confusion of reality and cultural significance.