Melissa Leandro

Melissa Leandro is a weaver and image-maker based in Chicago, IL. Her work combines dissimilar materials to produce unique manifestations through the process of hand and digital Jacquard weaving, appliqué, and assemblage. Personal histories, family emblems, language play, and female domestic gender roles inform her artistic language. Melissa’s working process often begins with the act of drawing, through this exploration of mark making; a collection of symbols and landmark images develops. She is currently an MFA candidate and Assistant Director of Facilities in the Fiber and Material Studies department at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Check out Melissa’s work in the exhibition Transcending Boundaries at the Bridgeport Art Center before it closes November 7th! And stop by the Intelligentsia Coffeehouse (53 East Randolph St, Chicago) to see her solo exhibition Pequeños Pasos (Small Steps). Melissa’s work will also be featured in the upcoming seventh issue of ART CRUSH publication this month.

On Material as Language / Language as Material

“As a bilingual woman, language is a very important part of my practice. Spanglish is very much real, and plays a large role in how I navigate my vocabulary in my work, both with and without words. To parallel the disparity of English and Spanish, I intuitively overlay contrasting materials, like birthday balloons and dyed cotton, and find unlikely combinations of process. I weave before I melt, then I stitch and dye, to then cut and stitch. The results are fictitious landscapes that lead me out of my current reality, and form a means of escape to a world of my own creation. It is in the making of this world that I’ve begun to learn my language as an artist.”

On Process

“The investigation process often begins with a 4”x6” pen drawing that I convert into a digital file composed of weave patterns for each color and line type. This file is woven on the jacquard and takes final shape as a tapestry. When I am hand-weaving material like plastic, rubber, felt, paper, and foam, these woven strips are fused together through heat, allowing me to machine stitch over a more rigid surface. The final step is to cut away fragments of the top layers, exposing the multiple stages of the weaving… Repetitive stitches act as drawn lines moving in several directions and attempt to merge with other groups of lines and simply disappear, or go around in endless circles.”