Melody Woodnutt is an international artist and curator recently based between Iceland and Australia. Her work is focused on “building spaces” for real life experiences (community engaged practice and public art) or spaces for artist performances (theatres and galleries). Essentially, her built spaces are made for interaction or participation.
Often these spaces are seen as large scale installations, set design, or public artworks. Within her sculptural spaces or installations there exists opportunities and new ways for us to stop, reflect, contemplate, or experience a new world so that we might pay more attention or open our eyes wider to the one we already have. She hopes this gesture or action contributes to a motivated, proactive, or more aware society.
As an extension to the idea of creating a physical sculptural space for the public or artists to interact with, Melody also creates artist residency programs or curatorial frames that facilitate ways for artists to interact with the world around them and the community. Her work lends itself to community engagement and unexpected audiences that encounter her constructed spaces, particularly in public locations.
Melody has worked as the Director for Nes Artist Residency, Iceland, and the co-director of Exist Live Art and Performance Art collective, Australia. Her works have been shown in Iceland, London, Brisbane, Melbourne, and the USA. Melody is the creator and curator of the Summer We Go Public Festival (Iceland), Site Exploratory Arts Festival (Iceland), co-curator of The Weight of Mountains – Film Development Biennial (worldwide), and the up-coming Love and Other Ecologies (Australia) which is an experimental collaboration and curatorial project.
For this project I want us to talk about ‘art’. The ever changing ‘A word’. I want to understand the perspectives of people here in New Smyrna; particularly the artist community and next generation art students.
I will be interviewing local artists so that I can deliver a publication that communicates what art means to artists working in New Smyrna and talk about how we see the future of arts, how we understand art, what impact art can have on our community and how local artists think. I want to also understand what local artists feel about the Community Artist in Residence Program and different art forms that are less mainstream and more alternative. I want to open up a discussion about how the Community Artist in Residence fits into this place and the arts culture here; what can we learn from each other? What do we have in common… what makes us unique as artists?
I hope by opening up new discussions about art with the local arts community that new personal revelations or, in fact, small new revolutions in thought can happen, I want to sit with new ideas and discover, discuss, and see new moulds for evolutionary practice.
I am a foreigner here, I feel like an explorer in a new land, finding my way. Compiling this publication will help me and the future ACA Community Artist in Residence guest artists to better understand the arts culture as it exists here and now.
As part of this project I will be collecting art books from other artists located around the world. I am curious to learn from both internationals and New Smyrna artists about their perspectives. I will ‘curate’ a selection of books that highlight exciting ideas or books that may provide inspiration for artists and the public community interested in arts. I want to build a space where we can go to actively pursue new thought and “to be with art” so I will house these collected books in a free library receptacle in a publicly accessible reading garden. At the end of my residency in mid-May, I will place myself in the reading garden with plenty of Florida home made iced tea for a good 38 hour work week of reading. Anyone who is so kind to visit me will be welcomed to read alongside me or to talk about the things we are reading or have read; finding ideas or personal consequences that come from these books. This is like a quasi-performance with a definite move to take refuge against the busy and induce the quiet contemplation of art and (in the words of Virginia Woolf) find a “room of one’s own” to house our ripe evolving thoughts.
Quote – *…I mean to be with art – I always thought that was a wonderful phrase of Gilbert & George’s ‘to be with art is all we ask’. How can we be fully with art? In other words, can art be experience directly in a society that has produced so much discourse and so many structures to guide the spectator?” – Anne D’Harnoncourt, former director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.