As an artist living in Birmingham, Alabama, and as one of a species living through and partly the cause of the sixth mass extinction on the planet (Anthropocene blues), I am primarily motivated by the following questions:
What is the artist's role in society?
How can art call into question the quality of the aspirations of our species?
My responses and meditations to these inquiries manifest primarily in the form of images, objects, and installations. For me the answer lies in the liminal realm of spiritual remediation - 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 ( biodiversity, etc.) 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 audience.
My three aims with art are, therefore, aspirational: 1) to elevate the divine feminine, 2) to reflect my belief that everything is connected and inter-dependent, and 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 birth a vision of a new world.
Born in Cleveland, OH in 1971, Merrilee Challiss is a multi-media artist currently living and working in Birmingham, Alabama- where she shares an artist's loft with three cats and dozens of succulents. Over a varied career, spanning several decades and including working as Art Director of Studio By The Tracks and running a music venue/ bar/ café (BottleTree Café), she has lived and worked abroad in Berlin and Prague, and has shown work in far-flung places such as San Francisco, Portland, Phnom Penh, Miami, and shows regularly regionally in New Orleans, Birmingham, and Nashville. She holds a BA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. 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
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
2010 Two person exhibit with Margaret Oomen, Craftland Gallery, Providence, RI
2005 Two person exhibit with Laura Ball, Bucheon Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Portals, Hoover Public Library, Birmingham, AL
Indwellers and Other Beings: Small Works" Sanctum Art, Birmingham, AL
2017 Call of the Void, Joy Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2016 Haus of Shamanista, Lowe Mill, Huntsville, AL
The Origins of Life and Other Fairy Tales, AKA/ PDX, Portland, OR
2015 Source Energy, Julia Martin Gallery, Nashville, TN
2014 Everything, Obliquely, Adams and Ollman, Portland, OR
2004 By Hoof, Stitch, or Limb, Durbin Gallery, Doris Wainwright Kennedy Art Center at Birmingham Southern College, Birmingham, AL
2002 Her Minds 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
2004 Emerging Artist Award, Magic City Art Connection, Birmingham, AL
2000 Window of Opportunity Award, The Leeway Foundation, Philadelphia, PA
2013, 2015 Signal Fire, Portland, OR
2015 Starry Night Residency, Truth or Consequences, NM