• Melissa McGill painted 50 “wave paintings”, ranging from 25′-45′ long over the course of two weeks in a temporary studio on site at Rough Point, observing the ocean each day and changes in light and weather. The paintings were made on a textile made of ocean recycled plastic trash, donated to the artist by Parley for the Oceans, an environmental conservation organization dedicated to protecting the oceans. These painting were then activated by the In the Waves ensemble in performances from August 18-28, 2021.

  • The project title In the Waves expresses action and our connection to water. We are “in” it together. This project is about partnerships–with the wind, with the ocean, with the environment, and with members of local communities and all of these energies together.  Our values affect the water. The project seeks to make that connection seen and felt.

    Warmest thanks to the In the Waves ensemble, a dedicated and inspiring group of local community members who responded to an open call for participation.


  • Aiden Sparks
    Avery Rose-Craver
    Brooke Martin
    Carol Bongiovanni
    Catnip Brennan
    Daniel Cano Restrepo
    Danielle O’Loughlin
    Danny Murphy
    Darien Matta
    Denzel Amoah
    Ellen Zahniser
    Emme Aguiar

  • Gabby Sparks
    Haley Blair
    Hanna Helme
    Henry Quinn
    Isabella DiFusco
    Jess Gomez
    John Brennan
    Josephine Moore
    Kathryn Boland
    Lila Quinn
    Lucia Xu
    Maia Carty

  • Meghan Theriault
    Michael Jones
    Morgan George
    Nathan Darring
    Rebecca Xu
    Richard K St.Aubin
    Rory O’Connell
    Sadie Mitchell
    Shannon Puerini
    Yu Xiao
    Zoë Banks

  • Heartfelt thanks to

    Dodie Kazanjian, curator of Art&Newport
    Newport Restoration Foundation
    Davalois Fearon, Choreographer
    Melanie George, Producer and Dramaturg

    van Buren Charitable Trust
    Joyce and George Wein Foundation
    de Ramel Foundation

    Doug Cohen
    Sherri and Jack Grace
    Elizabeth Ann Kahane
    Lani and Nick Liuzza
    Marie Samuels

    In Kind Support:
    Parley for the Oceans
    George Condo
    Hammetts Hotel
    Hilltop Inn


    Production Team:
    Philip Bachmann, Project Manager
    Melissa Conlon, Artist Assistant
    Tyler Paradis, Project Assistant

    Ellis Michael Quinn, Henry Quinn, Lila Quinn

    Friends of In the Waves:
    David Totah and Sophia McKinnon/TOTAH
    Sarah Arison and Dee Dee Sides/YoungArts
    Lorén Spears and Samantha Cullen-Fry/Tomaquag Museum
    Steve Heath/FABNewport
    Tom Powel Imaging
    William van Roden
    Natasha Harrison
    Paige Myatt

  • Land and Water Acknowledgement

    In the Waves took place on the ancestral lands of the Niantic Narragansett nation. We acknowledge those who were here before us and acknowledge and honor their continued presence and vibrancy.

    In the Waves celebrates them and their enduring traditions of environmental justice. As Lorén Spears, Executive Director of the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, Rhode Island states “Environmental justice is Indigenous rights.”

    “Water connects us all. Let’s remember to respect water and the water protectors of this place and around the world, in the spirit of reciprocity.  This place belongs to every bird that flies over it, every insect crawling in its earth, every flower that grows here, every bee that pollinates that flower, every magnificent tree that spreads its roots wide underground, every type of fungi community that sprouts up, every rock in its foundation and every wave that washes over those rocks… and to every indigenous person who has called and continues to call this place home.” –Melissa McGill, August 2021

    Samantha Cullen-Fry, coordinator of the Indigenous Empowerment Network at the Tomaquag Museum, writes “The In The Waves project really encompasses the feeling and spirit of interconnectivity.  It is important for all of us to understand we are stewards of this land and its waterways. As an Narragansett/Niantic woman, mother, and educator my way of life is in knowing that all my relations are a part of us and that everything we do will effect the next 7 generations. It’s important to keep us all healthy and viable not for self preservation but for the continuation and health of Mother Earth. I appreciate Melissa’s ability to convey this through her art and her intent in making sure Indigenous voices were heard throughout this process. “

    Photo by Natasha Harrison


  • Red Regatta: Riflessi

    Captured during Red Regatta’s performances in 2019 in Venice, these photographic works document the reflections of the red sails as they fleeted together across the Venetian lagoon. An immersive installation of these works was installed at Totah inviting viewers to be surrounded in Venice’s lagoon, bathing in the afterglow of the Red Regatta.

  • Constellation

    Constellation was a large-scale sculptural project installed around the ruins of Bannerman’s Castle on Pollepel Island in the section of the Hudson River that passes through Hudson Highlands State Park. Every evening, as the sun went down, starry lights emerge one by one with the stars of the night sky, creating a new constellation and connecting past and present, light and dark, heaven and earth. Constellation references a belief of the Lenape, the indigenous people of this area, of Opi Temakan, the “White Road” or “Milky Way” connecting our world with the next. The project launched in late June, 2015 and was on view through October 2017.

  • Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant erased, replaced with blossoming cherry trees

    These digital renderings depict Melissa McGill’s proposal to erase the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant and replace it with cherry trees.

  • The Campi

    A sculptural sound project

    Exploring the conversation between the visible and the invisible that defines public space, The Campi invokes daily life in five campi, the open, irregularly shaped public squares that serve as the historic heart of every Venetian neighborhood.


  • Box of Waves

    The Box of Waves series transmits movements in time across different elements, expressing our ongoing dialogue with nature. To open the box is like opening a portal into a moment-in-process—one marked by the perpetual reciprocity of wind and water. Drawing us into water’s inclinations, we engage with them by way of sight, sound, reflections, and movement. Water is as much a vital substance as an expressive language—be this articulated through wind, waves, shifting light and shadow, or the flow of time itself.

  • These Waters

    These Waters  is an immersive sculptural installation created at the invitation of and with support from Vacheron Constantin. Composed of five large-scale photographs of New York’s Hudson River on glass, five panels lean against each other and the wall, appearing to be portals into the waters, their size and placement evoking the rise and fall of the tides.  

  • Indigo Works

    Water’s gestures are expressed in this new series of natural organic indigo paintings, drawing us into water’s inclinations.

  • Between the Two

    This body of work explores mapping negative spaces and shadows in space with blown black glass and inky black rubber drawings.

  • Shape Shifting

    “Shape Shifting“, 2022

    This sculptural glass installation transmutes a series of two-dimensional, photographic surfaces into an immersive environment, where the subtle play of light and translucency recalls the changing yet constant nature of the tides.

  • Red Regatta

    Red Regatta was an independent public art project created by artist Melissa McGill that activated Venice’s lagoon and canals with four large-scale regattas of traditional vela al terzo sailboats hoisted with hand-painted red sails in 2019. Presented in collaboration with Associazione Vela al Terzo, curated by Chiara Spangaro, with project manager Marcella Ferrari, the project was co-organized by Magazzino Italian Art, with support from Mazzoleni.

  • Reverse Punctuation Constellations

    This series of two sided works on paper is a collaboration with writer Sam Anderson. He responded to Melissa McGill’s public art project, Constellation, with typewritten quotes and original pieces. McGill marked the typewritten pages with graphite, pastel, watercolor, Sumi Ink, and charcoal. Then, punching out the periods, punctuation, pauses and/or spaces in the written works with a Japanese hole punch, she created new constellations, illuminated when light shines through the pages.


  • Call and Response

    It is a time of great change, and it is a time of listening deeply—to each other and to the sounds around us.  In our suddenly quieter world, the sound of the birds can now be heard more clearly.

    This online project invites you to stop and listen. Call and Response refers to the actual format of this project—my call and received responses from around the world—as well as themes of community, connection and conversation. 


  • 100 Breaths

    This series of 100 works on paper is titled 100 Breaths (2016), shown here in a recent exhibition at David Weeks Studio . The artist made each drawing with her breath, blowing metal dust suspended in varnish to create drawings that refer to both geography and the body. The gold, copper and silver forms are highly responsive to ambient light and change throughout the day, as the light changes in the room. They flare up and soften as the viewer moves and looks at them from different angles.

  • Palmas

    Palmas activated the Quarry Pool and encircling paths at Manitoga: The Russel Wright Design Center. It was a two part project : A surround sound installation and a live performance. The work takes its name from the improvised, rhythmic clapping that is an integral part – the heartbeat – of Flamenco. Palmas animated the site aurally, inviting a heightened sense of awareness of the site’s landscape.