Craft Mechanix – Melza Harvey
Exhibition: January 12 to February 17, 2024
Vernissage and artist-guided gallery tour: January 11 at 6 pm
‘The Nuts and Bolts of Clay’ Art Hive with the artist: February 17, 10:30 am to 1 pm
‘Breaking Stereotypes’ participatory performance with the artist: February 17, 3 pm to 5 pm
In Craft Mechanix, Melza Harvey fuses soft, lustrous, organic curves in ceramic with rigid, symmetrical, rusted metal pieces to create sculptures that express her/their personal experience with gender fluidity. Using cosmetics and auto parts, materials that thoughtfully reference the artist’s parents’ professions as a mechanic and a cosmetologist, Melza creates a visual language that melds opposing materials and forms. With this work, the artist explores the complexities of gender identity and reconciles the impact of gender norms with her/their experience of growing up in rural Nova Scotia in the 1990s.
Electronics embedded in the sculptures add an experimental element and serve as an entry way for visitors to interact with the work. Counteracting the gallery convention to not touch fragile artworks, visitors are invited to activate the mechanism that vibrates against the interior walls of the sculptures to generate mechanical sounds, suggesting malfunction, irritation, something wrong. This interactivity serves as metaphor and reminder that each person has agency and contributes to shaping the social construction of gender. Through her/their art, we are invited to embrace the diversity of our own identities and engage in reflection and playful dialogue about the fluidity of gender.
Nova Scotian born interdisciplinary artist Melza Harvey uses abstraction to explore themes such as mothering, feminism, gender fluidity and sexuality. Melza began her/their journey in the arts as a mental health worker, using clay sculpture as a creative outlet. She/they studied ceramics at Centre de céramique Bonsecours and went on to graduate with distinction from Concordia University with a BFA in Ceramics. Melza has recently begun to incorporate sound, interactivity, and social engagement into her/their work. As a member of the Lachine Pottery Guild, Melza founded the Social Action Committee, an initiative that utilizes ceramic arts as a tool for community building, education, and raising awareness about social issues. Melza has participated in solo and juried group exhibitions in Québec and Ontario, and has a sculpture practice in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal, where she/they currently reside.
McClure Gallery thanks the Conseil des arts de Montréal for its financial support.