Melissa is an artist and a licensed, registered, board-certified art therapist. She holds a BFA in Painting from The University of Central Florida, an MPS in Art Therapy & Creativity Development from Pratt Institute and a certificate in Integrated Mental Health/Addiction Treatment. Melissa has 10 years of experience as a Creative Arts Therapist, working as a primary therapist, group therapist and program assistant director. She has utilized art therapy in a variety of settings, including inpatient and outpatient mental health, family shelters, schools and museums. Through these experiences, Melissa has had the opportunity to support, individuals experiencing difficulties with depression, anxiety, trauma, mental illness, developmental disorders, addiction, familial issues, life transitions, and stigmatization. Melissa practices an eclectic art therapy approach, utilizing Humanistic, Attachment and Behavioral frameworks, tailoring each therapeutic experience to meet the client or group where they are at. Throughout all her work, she weaves in mindfulness practice and self-compassion. In addition to her therapeutic practice, Melissa founded, Open House BK (est. 2010), a Brooklyn based, community arts initiative that provides affordable pop-up events, emerging artist exhibitions, and therapeutic workshops. Open House strives to shed light on the arts and community as integral for social justice, personal healing and progress. Currently, Melissa is a Visiting Instructor for Pratt Institute’s Art Therapy Department and Chapter Delegate to the New York Art Therapy Association. Melissa is also a practicing studio artist, exhibiting in galleries, universities and alternative spaces. In her artwork, she creates interactive installation art as a source of viewer engagement. Melissa believes creativity exists within everyone, serving as a gateway to heal, transform and explore the impact of one’s internal and external experiences.
As both an artist and art therapist, I consider space, relationships, and holding environment. My artwork is an ongoing exploration of inner and outer habitats that reflect elements of nature, growth, transition, and coexistence. I am interested in portraying the tension and ambiguity of micro and macro environments. Within these environments, I aim to form a transitional space that welcomes play and introspection. Transitional Space, coined by psychoanalyst and theorist, D.W. Winnicott, refers to the space in between subjective and objective reality, a space of pure creativity and play.
While I organically inhabit this experience in the studio and therapeutic space, I hope to cultivate it further within the exhibition space. I do so by use of playful arrangements, choice of material and inviting the viewer to engage with the work through the act of imaginative play. By utilizing simple/child-like materials, I encourage accessibility of art-making, demystifying of the artist and transformative powers of creativity. I also strive to create interactive components that foster social engagement, highlight universalities and form a sense of communal transitional space. My work forms a relationship with the surroundings and the viewer, paralleling my framework as an art therapist.
Videos & Interviews on works and process:
Brooklyn, NY 11215