Melissa Leandro (b. 1989, Miami, FL) explores her cultural identity and family memories to create vibrantly layered, topographical textile works filled with her drawn and collected imagery. Her textile works are vibrant, animated and heavily layered through traditional and non-traditional processes of stitching, quilting, weaving and batik dyeing. By mirroring personal moments of daily life, she manifests thoughts of family history, remembered childhood fantasies and nostalgic cultural ephemera.
Leandro often leads us through an alternate reality both inspired by and at odds with the idea of, “where do we call Home”. Her practice is shaped by past and present experiences and relationships; specifically, family memories of her mother working as a housekeeper in Miami, Florida; her grandparent’s chicken farm in Costa Rica; and her father’s livelihood as a construction worker and builder. Her present day collecting of souvenirs, knick-knacks, and natural detritus during her travels within and outside of the U.S. have also influenced her practice. As Leandro captures the silhouette of mundane trinkets and mementos through the process of cyanotype printing, real-world objects, (gathered through travel and family exchange), are transformed into abstract forms and surreal hybrid landscapes. These gathered objects are natural or household items: domestic textiles, hardware, plastic flowers and fruits, sea shells, kids’ toys, jewelry, pebbles, etc. Once imprinted through drawn lines or a cyanotype print, they evolve through multiple iterations of translation. Their form is woven, then stitched, embroidered, dip dyed or heat fused to make one blended substrate. The abstract and seemingly non-representational images depicted by Leandro, often echo topographical maps, natural forms, cultural remnants, and commonly found textile motifs such as Doilies or paisleys.
These works are specific to Leandro’s hybrid culture as a first-generation US Latinx artist moving between Costa Rica, Miami, Chicago and abroad.
Commission Approach: I am open and available for studio visits or site visits, which is something I have done in the past with other commission projects. I believe it’s a good idea to view a few works and materials in person with the patron so they can have a general sense of the materials/textures which can often be more vivid/lush in person as opposed to a web photo. I usually begin with a series of abstract drawings or paintings which then influence and become translated into the woven artwork. I am open to wall works, sculptural forms and other alternatives, whatever works best in the home or site.