Daniel Melo is an artist and musician currently as an Affiliate Artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin County, California. He earned his MFA in New Genres in 2015 and a BA in English Literature from Kenyon College.
What’s your angle and approach on contemporary photography?
My process includes making images in various forms; not only with a camera. In relation to photography specifically, I’m foremost interested in images and image-making, so that’s one intersection my practice has with the medium of photography. I’m interested in exploring the different ways images appear as I work from a starting point for a particular project or exhibition. When the process moves, it allows new creative spaces to occur, which in turn allows images to appear and this is how I continue to work with photographs and photography.
The Manresa show was quite a challenge. Actually, I had experience being in St. Ignatius years before I proposed my ideas for an exhibition. The very first visit, not having it in mind for an exhibition of course, made me think about similar buildings that I had walked into in Colombia, New York, Chile, and Argentina.
For the 2017 exhibition, I proposed to have access to the sacristy and the connected spaces to the sacristy within the church, within the structure itself. If I were given access to an area not easily accessible to the public yet imperative to the community’s functioning and well-being, I understood this would guide me as I made work for the exhibition. I worked carefully and closely with Kathryn Barulich (Assistant Curator) and the St. Ignatius parish staff to gain access to this part of St. Ignatius since, as you would imagine, I needed to establish a connection and sense of trust with them before beginning my work.
During the summer of 2017, I spent many hours making the works currently in the exhibition inside rooms used by community staff, contractors, and volunteers for the purposes of parish business and the preparation of spiritually significant objects. I would make images at St. Ignatius arranging the materials available to me in those rooms such as carpets, music stands, choir robes, and a chest. After a day at St. Ignatius, I would then go my studio in Marin to make prints during the evening.
As for installing the finished pieces, that process is also a response to the site after having spent many hours there. I realized how each of the four alcoves that make up Manresa Gallery was unique for many different reasons. The sound and light moving through the spaces for example. Their position relative to the streets outside and each alcoves’ position relative to the rest of the church. With its installed glass doors that can be opened and closed, the alcoves are both inside and outside of the remainder of the church. These are some of the elements that resonated through the space and the architecture.
Also, for the exhibition’s opening, I chose to respond to those gathered that night and the alcoves with the work installed in them. I surprised everyone by rolling out my amplifier, guitar, and equipment to perform an improvised set of sound and music. Not having performed in a church before, I enjoyed that experience so much. Hopefully, I’ll have many more opportunities to do similar performances in the Bay Area.
Any upcoming exhibitions or events to share?
The Headlands Center for the Arts recently reopened to the public with the inauguration of the Commons. We are having our first Open House of 2017 on Sunday, October 15, and I’ll have those works I made at the Headlands on view in my studio.
Finally, Making Out Who’s Seeing Youwas recently extended for another month, with a closing date of Sunday, November 12. There will be a closing event that Sunday from 12pm until 2 pm, so please come out and join us!
Making Out Who’s Seeing You is on view at Manresa Gallery through November 12, 2017 with a closing reception from 12-2pm.
Image credits: 1. Installation view of Making Out Who’s Seeing You at Manresa Gallery. Courtesy of the artist. 2. Installation view of Making Out Who’s Seeing You at Manresa Gallery. Courtesy of the artist. 3. Installation view of Making Out Who’s Seeing You at Manresa Gallery. Courtesy of the artist. 4. Installation view of Making Out Who’s Seeing You at Manresa Gallery. Courtesy of the artist. 5. Installation view of Making Out Who’s Seeing You at Manresa Gallery. Courtesy of the artist.