Living during a time of heightened eco-awareness, one must question how their own consumer indulgences aid in the decline of their surrounding environment. In my current project, titled Reef Cycle, I am collecting the toilet paper and paper towel rolls I personally use over a six-month period and am transforming these brown cylinders into a sculptural coral reef. Due to the location of the exhibition, San Pedro, CA, I chose to reference the current dilemma of dying coral and the bleaching reefs in the Pacific Ocean. Knowing the material itself would never survive in these conditions, I utilize the cardboard rolls to portray something that exists submerged in saltwater. These sculptures are created entirely from recyclable materials (including the water-soluble adhesives), and they will be broken down at the end of the project. The objective of this endeavor is to shed light on how much material a single person consumes when it's considered a necessity and the impact that can have, both environmentally and visually.
Investigating notions of value and permanence, I utilize primarily found materials to create artworks that evoke natural forms. These artworks not only employ imagery from the organic world, but they also have a trajectory, or lifespan, that mimics all things found in nature. Being resourceful, I use what materials are available in my immediate environment towards creating a new object or installation; often a medium is chosen for its ephemeral quality. External perimeters (such as size constraint, time limit, or material use) are set in place to provide a structure to create the artwork. With this type of artistic practice, the idea and object are developed in tandem with both parts playing an equally critical role.
While art can be used as a way of making a mark beyond your time, I am not striving to establish permanence with this project, but rather engaged with the work-in-progress. Even when the artwork is exhausted, I try to revive the materials into something useful or break them down to be regenerated; and, as a result, my creations endure a life and death cycle similar to the subjects that are portrayed.
Growing up in New Orleans, LA, Melise Mestayer was exposed to a rich artistic culture that highly impacted her decision to become a visual artist. After completing her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York (2007), she moved to Los Angeles to further pursue her artistic career through graduate school. She obtained her MFA from Otis College of Art and Design (2011) after receiving the Board of Governor's Fellowship. Melise currently resides in Redondo Beach, CA where she maintains an active studio practice. Her abstract sculptures and installations made from primarily reclaimed materials have been in group and solo exhibitions in California and Louisiana. Her objects are included in both private and corporate collections, and she has been contracted for commissioned artworks. Having received a Teaching Artist Fellowship through the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, she also spends her time as an arts educator at the Armory and the Manhattan Beach Art Department.