I am motivated by the following concerns:
What is the artist's role in society?
How can art be used as a channel to elevate our level of understanding that everything is connected, so that we will learn to live in harmony with the land, other species and with each other?
As a multi-media artist, my responses are meditations (manifested in the form of images, objects, and installations) on these themes.
For me the answer lies somewhere in the liminal realm of spiritual remediation (envision a venn diagram of where art and spirituality meet and overlap) to repair the broken bond between man and nature and spirit. The knowledge that everything going forward must be either an elegy for what we have lost or a celebration of what we have left propels me forward. I try to make work that engages with these big ideas and bigger mysteries while fostering a connection and conversation about these ideas with the viewer.
My chief aims (my reach seemingly always just outside my grasp) are therefore aspirational: 1) to make work that explores the interconnection of all things 2) to re-enchant the world 3) to promote the evolution of consciousness. I believe that artists can and do serve as tenders and menders of society and can function as portals to the imaginal realms, tapping into the source of the collective imagination, so that we may begin to heal the world.
Born in Cleveland, OH in 1971, Merrilee Challiss is a multi-media artist currently living and working in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to being an artist, she spent seven years working at Studio By The Tracks (a non-profit art studio providing free art instruction to adults on the autism spectrum), and ten years running a DIY music venue/ bar/ café (BottleTree Café). She holds a BA in Studio Arts from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA. She has received grants from Alabama State Council on the Arts, and the Leeway Foundation.
b. 1971 (Cleveland, OH), lives and works in Birmingham, Alabama
BA Studio Arts, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1994
MFA Sculpture, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 2000
Post-Graduate Apprenticeship, Fabric Workshop and Museum 2000
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
What is Love, Julia Martin Gallery, Nashville TN, September 2018
La La Land, Hall Barnett Gallery, New Orleans, LA, October 2018
Activating the Apparatus, B Complex, Atlanta, GA, October 2018
Superfine Art Fair (with Hall Barnett Gallery), Art Basel, Miami, FL
Uncommon Territory, Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Montgomery, AL
Menagerie as Symbol, Ground Floor Contemporary, Birmingham, AL
Disappearing Act, Collaborative Sound Performance, as part of the opening of THIRD SPACE, Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
SHIFT: A Temporary Platform for Social Exchange, a Birmingham Museum of Art Initiative, Birmingham, AL
New Works, exhibit with Margaret Oomen, Craftland Gallery, Providence, RI
Two person exhibit with Laura Ball, Bucheon Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Nightvisions, Lowe Mill Gallery, Huntsville, AL
Portals, Hoover Public Library, Birmingham, AL
Indwellers and Other Beings: Small Works, Sanctum Art, Birmingham, AL
Call of the Void, Joy Gallery, San Francisco, CA
The Void and the Eye, Julia Martin Gallery, Nashville, TN
Haus of Shamanista, Lowe Mill, Huntsville, AL
The Origins of Life and Other Fairy Tales, AKA/ PDX, Portland, OR
Source Energy, Julia Martin Gallery, Nashville, TN
Everything, Obliquely, Adams and Ollman, Portland, OR
By Hoof, Stitch, or Limb, Durbin Gallery, Doris Wainwright Kennedy Art Center at Birmingham Southern College, Birmingham, AL
Her Mind’s Livers and Her Heart’s Knives, Vox Populi, Philadelphia, PA
2019 Voyage Houston, January
2018 Open Color Magazine, May
2015 Art & Antiques, article by Edward Gomez, September
2015, 2005 New American Paintings Quarterly, Southeast Edition
AWARDS / HONORS
2005 Alabama State Council on the Arts Fellowship Grant
Emerging Artist Award, Magic City Art Connection, Birmingham, AL
Window of Opportunity Award, The Leeway Foundation, Philadelphia, PA
2013, 2015 Signal Fire, Portland, OR
2015 Starry Night Residency, Truth or Consequences, NM