• Palmas was a two part site specific project at Manitoga: The Russel Wright Design Center (Garrison, NY): a surround sound installation and a live performance in which the projects activated the Quarry Pool and encircling paths. It was on site for seven months in 2014. The work takes its name from the improvised, rhythmic clapping that is an integral part – the heartbeat – of Flamenco. Palmas animated the site aurally to invite a heightened sense of awareness of Manitoga’s landscape.
    This exploration enlivened the site in a unique call and response, creating a dialogue with the rocks, the water, and the trees. A recorded sound composition of a professional palmero clapping accompanied visitors moving along the Quarry Pool paths at timed intervals. The clapping, which has been plucked from its usual rhythmic role in the Flamenco dance, intertwines with the natural environment.

    “The sculptural quality of sound followed by its palpable absence enhances the visitor experience and intimacy with nature” explains McGill.

    McGill drew inspiration for this project from her own dance background (she studied Flamenco with Jose Molina in NYC) and from her 2003 artist residency in Andalusia, Spain.

     

  • The site-specific Palmas performance builds upon this theme as Flamenco performers engage Manitoga’s landscape in a unique call and response, creating a dialogue with the natural environment through song, music and dance.

    McGill collaborated to create this with an ensemble of renowned flamenco performers – Peter Basil Bogdanos (percussionist/cante-song), Isabel del Dia (baile-dance), Sol La Argentinita (baile/cante), Barbara Martinez (baile/cante), and Cristian Puig (toque-guitar).

  • The Quarry Pool forms a natural amphitheater where performers used a custom built stage, at the base of the waterfall and that seemed to float on water from a central bridge. The stage and specially designed resonant boxes served as acoustic platforms for Flamenco’s signature clapping and footwork, turning the central Quarry into an instrument of sound and human interaction.

  • This series, “Scores for Palmas”, was created on site at Manitoga in 2014 (watercolor on vintage music composition paper).

Projects

  • 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.

     

  • 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.

  • In the Waves

    In the Waves by artist Melissa McGill, curated by Dodie Kazanjian, was a series of live free public art performances activating the landscape and evoking the urgency of rising sea levels and a rapidly changing climate. The artist invited members of the local community to join the ensemble of this inclusive movement-based public artwork to create a shared meaningful experience about these environmental themes. The ensemble was led by the artist with Melanie George, producer and dramaturg and Davalois Fearon, choreographer.
    The project took place place at Rough Point in Newport, Rhode Island and was presented by Art&Newport and Newport Restoration Foundation.

    Photo by Caroline Goddard for Tom Powel Imaging

  • 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.

  • Belles

    The Belles forms are made from casts of the hollow interior spaces of 10 different female porcelain figurines. They are positive versions of these hidden empty spaces, which retain a faint and almost ghostly resemblance to their outer shells.

    As viewers move around the space to ring The Belles, the work activates the space sonorously. The bell’s sound is juxtaposed with the figure’s abstraction, resonating from the form it once held.

  • 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. 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.

  • 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. The project launched in late June, 2015 and was on view through October 2017.

  • 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. 

     

  • Between the Two

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

  • 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.

  • Slipside

    Slipside’s forms were created by casting the hollow interior spaces of ordinary, mass-market porcelain figurines. The results are positive versions of these empty spaces that possess a faint ghostly resemblance to their outer shells. The porcelain castings were made during two Arts/Industry residencies at Kohler in Wisconsin.

  • 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.

     

  • Box of Waves (Hudson River)

    Box of Waves (Hudson River), 2021 is the first in a new series. a custom made blackened oak box contains a looped video of Hudson River waves and sunlight. The reflection of the video dances on the walls of the box and the sounds of the waves are amplified within it.