Meet Melissa Joy Livermore, Artist in Residence
My name is Melissa Joy Livermore, I am an interdisciplinary artist who graduated from Ball State University in 2015 with a BFA in Photography. When describing my work I talk about each piece meeting somewhere between the ideas of interpersonal connection and introspection. Photography was my gateway drug, the medium that taught me how to see. Captivated by the way light swims across countertops, floats through leaves--capturing these moments that pass quickly. But I started to feel the need for a broader container to hold my conceptual work, something that would allow it to move in space and time.
The language that I was looking for was found performance art, in movements like Fluxus that placed emphasis on ephemerality, day to day actions, and spontaneity. Each piece documented through artifacts and a score of simple instructions.
The dialect that I spoke was found in projects like Rirkrit Tiravaija’s Untitled (Free/Still). A large pot of Thai soup served to people who happened upon the gallery opening, an invitation to share a meal across the table from strangers.
My cadence echoed in Ann Hamilton’s obsessive and contemplative works like lineament. The contents of a book excavated line by line, wrapped into a three dimensional ball.
Filtering my personal experiences through these concepts lead to the birth of Deconstruction in 2014. A project of many different iterations centered around the action of removing thread after thread from a piece of fabric. This project has been with me on three different continents, and holds the stories of so many.
A personal meditative practice, elevating a quickly passing moment of beauty.
A collective space, engaging in the same action with various groups of people.
A collaboration with Linda Ryan, exploring the role movement plays when working at a larger scale.
The second iteration of the project has been my main focus over the last few years, a process that I often refer to as a knitting circle in reverse.
Pulling apart a piece of fabric one thread at a time, together.
Creating an opportunity for people to see one another, to hear one another in a different way. Many people who participate in Deconstruction use words like cathartic or relaxing to describe their experience. It has been a privilege to facilitate these events, to look up at the clock and see that hours have passed sharing time with new friends.
Outside of Deconstruction a lot of my work is based in New Media, researching and understanding the ways that our lives are recorded on different social media platforms.
These platforms that hold record of interpersonal relationships, of interests, and experience.
Astrid Ingerson, magnifying the angsty and poetic version of myself, turning it into an alter ego, an exploration of these ideas. I wanted to see what it looked like to convince the internet that I was someone else. Could that facade be maintained in real life interactions? The first time that I went into the real world as Astrid it was incredibly uncomfortable, the facade quickly crumbled. But over time I have seen parts of this project merge with my current reality. Astrid gave me permission to explore singing and writing again, interests that I let fall to the wayside. She isn’t too active these days, but I still consider her an important piece of my internet based work and a catalyst for new creative explorations.
Sound was one of the mediums that felt like home, right away. I have memories of sitting in my bedroom in as a kid, scanning the radio to record blips of songs and conversation onto cassette tapes. Mixing and compiling compositions out of songs that I enjoyed for video projects in school. One of my more recent experiments was created by mixing together about twenty different translations of My Heart Will Go On into one piece.
Living overseas, one year in China, one year in France, grew my interest in linguistics. Especially the concepts of language acquisition, code switching, and the role that technology plays in learning and translation. When I lived in China, My Heart Will Go On was often found playing on the speakers of different restaurants and coffee shops. A song that quickly brings me back to the experience of living there. And when I realized that it was likely translated into French because Celiene Dion is French Canadian, I dove into a deep corner of Youtube to see how many other translations I could find. I am interested in the way that this song resonates across cultures, while it is also translated to fit into the context of each language.
Since graduating from Ball State I have had the opportunity to participate in, volunteer for, and work with a few different art residencies. Due to the nature of my work, most of these programs have been focused on giving artists space to cultivate their personal practices and creatively engage with the surrounding community. Most recently I spent time volunteering with PlySpace, in Muncie, Indiana, after I was invited to be one of their pilot residents in the Spring of 2018. I found myself thinking a lot more about the logistical aspects of the way a residency is run during those two months in residence, wanting to provide feedback to help shape the experience for future participants in the program. Around the same time I was working with Transform Creative as the lead on research and development, where I facilitated an evaluation of the residency program. While I am in residence at the Harrison Center I will continue to develop this interest by creating and analyzing the results of a survey about PreEnact Indy 2019. My intention is to learn more about the event participants, what they are taking away from the experience. What is PreEnactment to them, is it something that is able to be translated into their daily lives?
The principles that guide my evaluation processes are similar to the ones that guide my art practice. Getting down to the bottom of something, understanding it, pulling apart the individual fibers in order to see the whole. Considering the way something opens up opportunities for personal growth and reflection, examining the way something facilitates opportunities for interpersonal connection.