Untitled, Chika Chika series, artwork by Melissa Steckbauer

Melissa is a visual artist and freelance copyeditor, she was born in Tucson, Arizona and was raised all over America but since three years she’s living in Berlin. She studied Art History at Utrecht University and fine arts at: the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Utrecht, the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received her BFA, and The Santa Reparata School of Art. Her early works are paintings dealing with sexuality, but now her she’s entering a new phase, choosing collage as her form of expression. Her latest project is a photographic series about understated intimacy and she’s also planning to go much larger in terms of format, let’s have a talk with her!

Untitled, artwork by Melissa Steckbauer

Why did you get to choose collage as your form of expression?
I was looking hard for a way out of painting. I needed something that offers a strong range of physical possibilities but that can also be completely upended by its material structure. I like that I can manage collage in layers; usually photography holds all of the juicy content and the collage is a layer of fixed ornamentation – I want the collage to work harder, to be flatter but better than the photography. I appreciate the sing-song of their interruption and realignment and interruption and realignment.

Which relationship does exist between you painting and you collages?
They share a material tenderness with a foundation in craft. I appreciate the need to train my hand in order to learn a skill; that it’s possible over time to become sincerely precise and relate to a language of forms with confidence and care. What’s nice is that you don’t have to be a genius to work in this way; I think sheer desire and repetition can lead to successful making.

Untitled, Chika Chika series, artwork by Melissa Steckbauer

How would you define your style / approach to art? Why?
Impish. Because it’s about me and I am impish and into extremes. I like authentically confident, weird, nerdy, and shy human beings. All of my work is born from the desire to connect, to them and even without them, in order to grow. Anything I do creatively, socially, etc., has to offer the potential to be felt as an electric wave in my body. With my work it starts from something contracted and frightened and expands with life force.

What are your sources? Do you usually keep an archive of the pictures you’ll be using in your collages?
In 2006 I worked on a my first B&W analog project and I keep and recycle those images. In the last two years I’ve been creating source material with people from my current social circle and I mix that with old family photos. I am not much for archiving but what I have, I milk.

Untitled, Chika Chika series, artwork by Melissa Steckbauer

How did the digital media influence your artistic production?
Right now that has more to do with printing than producing and I’m still in research mode. I’m currently a low-fi maker but I’m flexible. The next time we talk I might be making holograms of avatars.

What if you end up being uninspired? Any tips or tricks?
The library, the train, metaphysics, meditation, body work, my bicycle (it’s like flying), green spaces, new people, more honesty, and better communication. Anything to do with the visual realm: lately I am interested in minimal patterns in textiles and elementary geometry. It could just as easily come from the grids in my tax returns or the walls of the Underground or from being with someone who rarely cries when they suddenly pull over the car of the relationship, get out, stretch, aerate, and cry.

What are your fav art venues / galleries in your city? Why?
Oh my… I have dozens. Salon Populaire (brilliant, brilliant creatures), ALL of Berlin’s museums (but especially the Guggenheim, they have the best guides and the Pergamon, because it’s a reliquary), Sammlung Hoffman (she has monthly video screenings), Bethanien (they have the most about-to-be gathered/collected/absorbed young artists in Berlin), and as for galleries I can’t play favorites but I’d look to www.indexberlin.de (they will tell you what to do today, right now).

Untitled, Chika Chika series, artwork by Melissa Steckbauer

Melissa Steckbauer

Would you ever change your job for something different? If yes, for what?
Motivation speaker, inspirational consultant, intuitive, therapist.

Who is the woman you’d like to see featured / interviewed here?
Clare Ros (www.clareros.com).

Is there anything in particular you would like us to mention?
I have a two-person show in Chicago coming up at Western Exhibitions from January 27th  to March 10th, 2012. That said, thanks and a big hey to Scott Speh (Western Exhibitions) and Michael Rea.