Inspired by the variety of shapes, colors & materials found in outdated technology, Melissa Glick combines e-waste with imagery to make one of a kind home decor, jewelry & accessories called Hacker Creations. Working out of the Artisan’s Asylum since 2013.
Its not even Halloween yet and I have already carved a 100 lb pumpkin. Mine is the farthest on the left. First time partaking in this Artisan’s Asylum tradition. Those gourds are really thick but I think I’d take a different tact next time and leave more of the skin and draw detail into the surface. Like this awesome one from years past……
In the Studio
I’ve started working larger! Since I’ve been getting inquiries for Office Decor from Tech Companies and now The Cambridge Arts Council is looking for large work to hang in WeWork co-working space. CAC exhibits art in many of the buildings in Kendal Square, Cambridge, as part of their Creative Marketplace program. Perfect timing since I have finished the first in a series of three tall ones. Agam Totem is 5′ x 1′ made on wood with a white painted frame.
Blue Construction is 2′ x 2′ and is my first experiment building on a new material. Pink insulation board is extruded Polystyrene and is much lighter than wood. I am discovering a whole new way to attach the parts because the material has very different qualities.
Both are part of a series done over the bright colors of Yacov Agam. Agam is a kinetic artist who is 100 years old and living in Israel. This is the link to his incredible Museum which I would love to visit. I use a portion of the original work, often altering the color and multiply it in Photoshop. I use color photocopies and Mod Podge to “decoupage” a surface for the construction to be built over.
I have long intended to make work echoing Russian Constructivism. This early abstract movement plays with abstract shapes in compelling compositions. Some notable artists of this era include: Kazimir Malevich,, El Lissitzky &Alexander Rodchenko. Check them out!
I hope you will visit my website to see the latest additions to my Feminism and Technology (formally known as Victorian Ladies) series. The current stable includes: Ada Lovelace, Mermaid, Alice Contemplates the Galaxy, German Engineering and VL, Victorian on Wallpaper. See All my new work at the Winter Market & Open House Dec. 8 & 9.
Rebar orbs adorn a chain link fence in the Gordon Sq
A few weeks ago I attended the opening days of the first Cleveland Triennial, a 3 month arts event that takes place all across the City. When I saw this fence, it sort of summed up my experience. The way the industrial material of these rebar orbs are treated in an aesthetic way, felt like something I would see at A2, and I wanted to share how I saw Cleveland’s industrial character intertwined with the creative.
As a representative of A2 with VIP access to openings, parties, the press reception and curator led tours – and free non alcoholic drinks at the opening, I got to see how the arts are contributing to the revitalization of this one time booming City.
The event follows in the tradition of the Venice Biennale – the 123 year old tradition in which inclusion has been a significant accomplishment of the most successful and influential artists. Once the economic benefits for the city became apparent to the rest of the world, “biannuals” began to pop up all over. So much so that those in the “art world” report having “bianual burnout“! International gatherings such as World’s Fairs have lost their relevance, while those in the arts are thriving.
I had never been to Ohio before and what I knew of its socio-economic history was not positive, so my first view of the city was a happy surprise! The vista across the Cuyahoga river with a multitude of bridges, smoke stacks of steel plants, ornate brick buildings and gigantic reflective skyscrapers was eye popping!
Cleveland was a booming industrial and manufacturing epicenter for about a hundred years. It was a transportation hub where the iron ore was processed into the steel that built this great country, along with many other manufacturing industries. John D. Rockefeller founder of Standard Oil and US Steel started off in Cleveland.
The White Dam, 1939 Raphael Gleitsmann
Cleveland’s biggest boom was during World Wars. It’s decline began in the 1960’s due to industrial restructuring among other things, by ’78 they entered into financial default on federal loans.
During its heyday, prosperous patrons were intent on building a beautiful, culturally rich new city comparable with Paris or London. They were also concerned with the social welfare of the working population, the many immigrants and their families. The beautiful bones of the city can still be seen, amidst the decay, frenzied revitalization, sports stadiums, obnoxiously grand skyscrapers, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Cleveland Museum of Art, seen across one of the many parks in the city.
On the East Side, we saw marvels of past including: Olmsted-like parks, the incredible public Library, The Federal Reserve and a shopping arcade with the largest glass & steel beamed roof. An art installation addressing immigration is in one of the many grand library rooms. The Library has a tiny/tidy makerspace with 2 laser cutters, a vinyl cutter, a 3D printer and computers with guitars for working in Rock Band. They have plans for taking over a whole floor since library use is really low.
On the West side we saw beautiful murals in neighborhoods, Trinity, The Flats, Ohio City and beautiful Beaux Arts, Art Deco, Sullivanesque brick buildings. The old factories and warehouses, offer loads of great space for artists. We wandered around the 78th street studios, formally headquarters for American Greeting cards -now full of galleries and work spaces. I realized it was comparable in size to The Asylum, but times 4 floors! There is so much space out there! Again, artists have drawn attention to the value of formally unwanted real estate and they are being gobbled up by developers.
Between the developers and artists little areas are being revitalized with murals, art spaces, bars, restaurants, shops and the old time establishments are benefiting.
In an area called Hinge town, the conversion of the The Transformer Building at 1460 West 29th Street has stimulated a lot of activity including a project at SPACES that brings the community together to try to make something positive grow from the shooting of 12 year old Tamir Rice. An installation by Dawoud Bey at St. John’s Church commemorates the Underground Railroad. There is a Cafe and Deli in a beautiful renovated firehouse.
The Cleveland Museum of Art has an incredible collection! It was awesome to see works by Picasso, Nevelson, Warhol I have never seen before in person
My favorite was this sculpture which was made by an artist who worked in the aeronautics industry. I love its smooth, white abstract geometry and its futuristic, satellite-like look. I have a predilection for abstract sculpture and my work is made with materials I find at A2. After reading the wall text, I felt it sounded a lot like A2.
In an era when most sculpture was made by traditional methods such as carving or casting, he instead employed industrial techniques to create his inventive works. His studio was more akin to a machine shop, complete with drill presses, lathes and dies.
We were pleasantly surprised to find we could get tickets to the sold out Yayoi Kusama show. She was involved with the “god father of assemblage” Joseph Cornell in the 1960’s. I had no idea that her work consisted of infinity mirrors (something I have been planning on doing.) I also recently found out, one of her boxes, which you walk into, is currently at DeCordova Museum in Lincoln. So you can experience it yourself!
Melissa’s work reflects the rapid pace which technology becomes obsolete and the resulting glut of old computers. She is concerned that many people don’t know what to do with their old technology and feels manufacturers must begin to take responsibility for the disposal of their products.
Growing up, her father worked at Raytheon (1960 –90) and brought home outdated equipment that was being thrown out. Nevertheless she never opened a computer until joining The Artisan’s Asylum, maker space in Somerville, MA where she has had a studio since 2012. She is the recipient of surplus parts, cruft, e-waste from the other members.
The older the computer/tech the bigger and better the parts are. There is a limited supply of the most beautiful parts. She is documenting a period of technological development that quickly becomes history. She finds beauty in the abstract shapes and colors of the wide variety of components. Her work has been described as, “Structural Poetry”.
What an exciting Spring !
I’m just back from a trip to Cuba which was so inspiring, I’ve already made new 2 pieces. Including this one that includes images of the neighborhood covered in mosaic.
I received a grant from the Artisan’s Asylum to start a line of work to market specifically to funky art gallery shops. After Open Studios, I will start learning to use the Shop Bot (CNC Gantry Router) to drill shadow boxes out of a 2 ” solid piece of wood. If you know of any funky art gallery shops, similar to where I current sell work, Blue Cloud and Uni-T please let me know.
First weekend of May you can visit me at The Artisan’s Asylum, 10 Tyler St Somerville. The largest Maker Space on the East coast with 40,000 Square feet of workshops, studios, classrooms and community space. Parking in the lot off Dane St. Learn about all the classes you could take.
Come to Space #10 and see all my new work! You also get to check out all the old technology that has been donated to me and my organizational system that goes up 10 feet, requiring a ladder to reach the top! You can also make a pin or necklace.
Additionally, there is the SOS First Look show at theSomerville Museum, One Westwood Ro. Every SOS artist has been invited to submit one work. Open April 27-29: Thurs 2-7pm, Fri 2-5 pm, Sat noon-5pm & SOS weekend May 4-7: Thurs 2-7 pm, Fri 2-9 pm, Sat and Sun 11am-6pm.
MAY 6 & 7
The Atrium 100-200 Technology Square on Main Street at the railroad tracks, in Kendall Square. Refreshments will be served.
Check out this awesome bike tour map! Our Open Studios Launch Party and Artist Showcase will be Thursday, May 11th from 6-8pm at The Cambridge Art Association 25 Lowell Street, Cambridge. Open to the public.
Lots of people have expressed interest in taking my fun workshops…..but I haven’t managed to get them all in the same room! If you would like to join and give it a try, please email me: and let me know what days/times work best for you and we will make it happen!
When I volunteered at Arduino Day on Sat. March 28th, it was snowing so hard, the Charles River was barely visible from the top floor of the MIT Media Lab. But what an interesting place to learn more about the “Lego” of electronics. Make Magazine posted a slide show of photos I took that day.
I first heard about Arduino from the collaborator on my pieceThe River of Connectivity which has 12 re-purposed computer fans across a 6 ft. long assemblage. Tyler built and programed an Arduino that turned the fans turned on then off in succession from left to the right. The fans, that look best when slowing down and starting up, recalled flowing water.
What is it? Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for anyone making interactive projects. Therefore it is becoming popular with new media artists who create experiential environments and work with light and sound.
How Does it Work? As with all electronics, components are connected to a board. The Arduino board comes with some components already attached so you can just plug into your computer and use a free software to program, tell it what to do. There are many companies doing this.
The program spells out what steps to take in computer language. Using If statements allows the instructions to change based on options. Various roles of components include:
Sensors, that react to light, sound, touch, speed, temperature, moisture;
Switches, that turn things on and off and adjust speed;
Clocks and counters, used to schedule frequency etc.
How does it relate to art? Some of my favorite artists made kinetic sculpture. Calder and Rikey made large metal shapes that moved, be they powered by the wind or human interaction. I once witnessed a couple of percussionists make wonderful rhythms on a large free-standing Calder swung around at The Neuberger Museum at SUNY Purchase, 1981. (This was it’s intended purpose.)
Alexander Calder, Red Mobile, 1956, Painted sheet metal and metal rods, a signature work – Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Closer to Home: Some of my friends at the Artisan’s Asylum are experimenting with Arduino. Sage Kochavi’s piece Furry All, consists of two feet high letters, covered in soft fun fur. She programed the Arduino sensor to trigger LEDs embedded in the fur. As your hand nears, the lights glow brighter and when you stroke the fur, the letter begins to purr via the embedded motors which are triggered by the interaction.
Another Asylum member Mark Brownawell, has set up a little monitor connected to a temperature sensor. As people come near, red blocks of color increase and blue decrease. Temperatures in between are represented in yellow and green.
It is inevitable that the current technology would be integrated into the art of the period. Products like Arduino make it possible for artists to push boundaries and use it in ways corporations and scientists would never would. How can you imagine using Arduino in a creative project?
2. I was still painting the edges of Little Pasha, at Open Studios, I’m not ready to give that one up… I love having him around….
3. Pink Weave was finished and I liked the way it turned out.
4. Vasarelli was purchased by my bestest, oldest friend (along with 2 older ones: Mosaic with Grout & Stators). Karen, my patron, is supportive, encouraging & has plenty of walls to adorn in her big beautiful house.
5. Tabs and 6.Silver & Goldreceived many positive comments but no serious takers. They are both listed on line at Etsy and a new source called Artfully Reimagined This fee-free online market is like Etsy but solely for work made from recycled materials! How awesome is that?
There is 7. Mondrian Triad and 8. Mod Squad ….. waiting on my bench to be finished are: China, Poka Dots, Peruvian Doll and Blue Stars. That would’ve been 11!
I took the advice and started making earrings and they sold very well. Since my attempts at resin were unsuccessful, I just started adding jump loops to the collection of laser readers I had saved up. (image)
It was lucky to find silver and copper colored jump rings at Building 19 a few months ago. (a real bargain store here in MA – unfortunately soon to be out of business:<) The rings that are like paper clips can be slipped the laser readers and other delicate parts to make earrings and necklaces of various designs.
With the magic of luck (preparation, inspiration, & foresight), saving interesting pieces with an organized system, I just popped the pieces together and now they are dangling off the ears and necks of some very groovy young women! Thank goodness for holiday shoppers!
I updated the quilt image on a couple magnets and added pins to 2 small ones for broaches. A woman who saw my work at the Open House, later contacted me thru the etsy page and requested 6 to give to her staff. Now what a nice holiday gift for a “techie” company. There are so many of those here in Cambridge, MA. I just need to find a way to get the word out to them.
I think the 12 earrings, 8 necklaces and 15 magnets more than make up for the original goal……also what ever didn’t sell is coming to Vegas in August to the ultimate hacker convention: Def Com! (I hope!)
Although it was a long time in the planning and I pulled my SOS display together at the last minute. Took half a day off from work and totally reorganized my pallets where I store all my raw materials. I cleared out space and set up a little work area where I planned to spend the time productively. There we were at the corner of aisle 1 and 2. Jim Brendt showing his graphic novel… Gretchen’s white wall, looking very Newberry St gallery with her abstract metal sculpture and Seth’s concrete table. The four of us spent the hours representing our very different work to the visitors.
Visitors…. Obviously the first thing you think of are those who bought something. I will never forget, and each and everyone of you, mean so much to me. The girl who bought my first magnet, she said she liked the texture! But I didnt get her name. She paid in cash. Next Michael bought the hat. I thought I could get $50 at the Steampunk Festival, but since I decided not to do that event, I offered it to him for $25. It was perfect for him. He’s one of those guys who wears a baseball hat every single day. He said it was replacing his current hat which
years old. I hope this one lasts that long!
A couple purchased (the first) framed Animal Park print. They said they would put it in their hall, which needed color. The next print to go was destined for a little girl named Harriet’s room. Her mom took a photo of the 2 of us with the print. A 30 something yr old woman bought the first mosaic of the weekend. She was funny. First she wanted the clock, then it was Orange, but in the end she purchased “Prince” for $50. She said she liked the angular shape and the colorful, mishmash of pictures and objects.
Finally, one of the biker fleet got a 2 for $80 special deal on a small framed Pig and the Wall paper mosaic! Grand Total: $375!
Now I have the selling bug! I say, buy it, take it away so that I have room to make new work!!! Thank you for supporting my habit and closing the recycling circle!