This body of work began at the start of the pandemic when newly transformed ideas of identity and connection were emerging from our shelter-in-place environs. I began using mother-and-child imagery to examine my experience as a mother during the pandemic and of my one-year old losing sight in one eye, and the grief and sorrow that I experienced. Though rooted in personal experience, my use of traditional feminine iconography led to a broader focus on women and the impact the pandemic has had on our independence and self-identity. I considered how the health and economic costs of the pandemic--women have disproportionately lost jobs and carried childcare responsibilities--intersect with society’s expectations of women as dutiful, nurturing beings. The resulting works explore themes of maternal isolation, devotion and sacrifice, and the pressures of the feminine ideal. The healing nature of the work is found in the notion of the ‘blind visionary’ portrayed in several paintings and born of my desire to see my daughter’s sight healed. Split representations of the face emerging from water reflect women as shapeshifters and illuminate the dichotomies between the seen and unseen, sight and vision, and earthly and divine. The benefits of seeing are illusory, particularly in the overwhelmingly virtual world we currently inhabit. However the need for vision as a means to devise a set of beliefs remains, within us, constant-- to heal and develop, transform or progress from one state to the next. These works contemplate what it is to be acknowledged while simultaneously exploring the miraculous, and the transformative paths between seeing and believing.
Melissa Capasso’s work features shapeshifting forms in lush, deliberate compositions, and explores themes of transformation and transition. Capasso earned her MFA from Brooklyn College in 2016. Recent exhibitions include several prominent group shows and solo shows at Gold/Scopophilia (Montclair, NJ) and Sweet Lorraine Gallery (Brooklyn, NY). Reviewing the former show for Two Coats of Paint, Jennifer Rose Bonilla-Edgington wrote that Capasso’s “work’s energy invites viewers’ engagement and its intricacy stimulates them to search their own minds for connections to the content, sparking the neurons.” Capasso teaches drawing at Suffolk County Community College and has also taught at Rutgers- Newark. Residencies and honors include the Elizabeth Murray Artist Residency and the Edward F. Albee Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship.