Joan Mitchell Center AIR Program

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Mel Ziegler

1997 Painters & Sculptors Grant Recipient

Mel Ziegler has been one of the most consistent proponents of an expanded in-situ concept since the nineties. In his projects that are located in both exhibition spaces and urban spaces, he explores how the circumstances of public life and social space are reflected in the architecture and “design” of cities. At the same time, his work focuses on the question of the hidden historical and social-political manifestations of representation. In order to reveal and manipulate these, Mel Ziegler uses the most diverse materials to create complex reference systems, in which individual and collective history converge.

  • Breathe In, Breathe Out, Salina Art Center,  2004, Salina, KS

    "A project commissioned by the Salina Art Center and the Smokey Hill River festival Foundation. It involved collecting community breath in a 16 foot long tank. Each participant was asked to sign the tank. Over 4,000 samples of breath were collected." -Mel Ziegler

  • Smell The Flowers, 2010, Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art, Nashville, Tennessee.

    "In trying to break down the resistance of the botanical gardens ten foot perimeter fence and the high cost of admission I invited all local active military personnel and their families to visit Cheekwood for free.  This was during the Dale Chihuly exhibition which I considered to be an aggressive art occupation juxtaposed against my passive military occupation.  The only way the military was distinguished from other visitors was through the admission’s arm band.  It was red.  An occasional visitor wore camouflage like in the top photo. Over 230 active military personnel and their families participated. I held a reception for all the participants as part of the project so that I could talk with them personally." -Mel Ziegler

  • Messages From Murray, 2010, University Art Gallery, Murray State University, Murray, KY.

    "Project commissioned by the university art department. Four local corporate companies that either manufactured or distributed products provided over 800 pieces of their standard packaging material from boxes to palettes. All these materials were brought to the gallery for display. The community was asked to write a message on the boxes and or wooden pieces. All 800 pieces of material got covered with some form of message or drawing. The packaging material was then returned to the companies to pack with their products and shipped out with the messages." - Mel Ziegler 

  • Downtown Mixer, 2009, Houston, TX. Commissioned by the Buffalo Bayou Art Park Organization.

    "This project involved eight high-rise office towers in downtown Houston where we collected breath samples from the workers in that building. Each participant, after blowing up the balloon with their own breath, was asked to draw a self-portrait on the balloon. The balloons were color coated in accordance to each building. After the collection of the air the balloons were mixed up and re-installed in the various office towers. The air depleted from the balloons mixing the air from each building." -Mel Ziegler

All works are copyright of the artist or artist’s estate.