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Melissa McGill

Photo by Kate Orne/Upstate Diary

Melissa McGill, (born in Rhode Island, 1969) is a New York based interdisciplinary artist known for ambitious, collaborative, site specific public art projects. They take the form of site-specific, immersive experiences that explore nuanced conversations between land, water, sustainable traditions, and the interconnectedness of all living things. At the heart of her work is a focus on community, meaningful shared experiences and lasting impact. Spanning a variety of media including performance, photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, sound, light, video and immersive installation, McGill has presented both independent public art projects and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally since 1991. She lives in Lenapehoking (Beacon, New York).

Her recent endeavor, Red Regatta (2019), was an independent public art project that activated Venice’s lagoon and canals with four unprecedented large-scale regattas of traditional vela al terzo sailboats hoisted with hand-painted red sails, presented in collaboration with Associazione Vela al Terzo Venezia, co-organized by Magazzino Italian Art.

In the Waves (2021) was a series of collaborative performances presented by Art&Newport that moved over the landscape in Newport Rhode Island evoking the urgency of rising sea levels and a rapidly changing climate with an ensemble of local community members. The artist invited members of the local community to join the ensemble of this inclusive movement-based public artwork to create a shared meaningful experience about these environmental themes. Her land art project, Constellation (2015-2017), installed on an island in the Hudson River, lit each night creating a new constellation transforming The Bannerman Castle ruin. She has been exhibiting her artwork nationally and internationally since 1991, and additional recent projects include Canaletto and Melissa McGill:Performance and Panorama, 2022, The Lightbox, United Kingdom; Palmas, 2014, Manitoga, Garrison, New York ; The Campi, 2018, Venice, Italy, as well as solo exhibitions at The Permanent Mission of Italy at the United Nations, New York organized by Magazzino Italian Art; Mazzoleni London-Torino; TOTAH, New York; White Cube, London; Power House, Memphis; Palazzo Capello, Venice; and CRG Gallery, New York. She is a graduate of The Rhode Island School of Design, a member of the Lenape Center Advisory Council, and a National Endowment of the Arts ArtWorks Grant recipient. In 2022 she was awarded the Helena Rowe Metcalf Visionary Award by the Rhode Island School of Design Alumni Association.

Melissa McGill Sea Saga, 2022 organic indigo on clay coated wood panels (diptych) 36 × 30 × 1 ½ inches (91.5 × 76 × 4 cm) 36 × 30 × 1 ½ inches (91.5 × 76 × 4 cm)
Oceanus, 2021 Organic indigo on clay coated wood panel 36 x 30 x 1.5 inches
Celestial River, 2022 Organic idigo on yupo paper, 9″ x 12″


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  1. […] Melissa McGill sat down to chat with us about her show, Currents, which ran in the fall of 2022 at Totah Gallery. McGill maintains a simultaneous studio practice and public art practice. The title refers to the movement of water and nods to current events in time. The works ranged across mediums from video to painting to mural and sculptural, all of them reflecting the theme of water. To hear more, listen to the complete interview. […]


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