NURTUREart is pleased to present Crowd Control, a solo exhibition by Melissa Sclafani. Crowd Control is an immersive installation with sculpture and light projection. Created in response to the ongoing detention of migrant children at the United States-Mexico border, Sclafani’s installation draws attention to the boundaries and devices that divide us.
Sculptures resemble playground equipment: one comprised of crowd control barriers, the other with canvas similar to the material used in the tent city in Tornillo, Texas, where the children are being held at the time of the opening of this exhibition. These familiar forms designed for fun and freedom are contaminated with the very materials being used to confine and oppress migrant children.
A light projection casts shadows in the shape of chain link, a ubiquitous technology for division, confinement, and control of movement in the name of protection and safety. These shadows hedge in viewers and invoke disembodied barriers.
Sclafani’s installation is a touchstone for ethical self-examination and a point to fortify political resistance. Locating viewers in proximity to signifiers of play, freedom, and innocence—now melded with cold, rigid material—allow an embodied meditation on freedom and oppression, asking: Does freedom on one side of the fence require detainment on the other? Does safety for some necessitate precarity for others? In relation to a border, to public debate, to political action, Crowd Control asks, where are you?
Melissa Sclafani (b. 1987, Long Island, NY). She received her BFA in sculpture from SUNY New Paltz in 2009 and her MFA in Sculpture and Post-Studio Practices from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2018. Sclafani uses her background in traditional sculpture techniques, journalism and gender studies to generate a relationship between labor intensive process, interaction, and social constructions. She has participated in residencies and exhibitions across the country including Wayfarers in Brooklyn, NY; Franconia Sculpture Park in Franconia, MN; Salem Art Works in Salem, NY; The Contemporary Artist Center in Troy, NY; and Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, CO. She has received an emergency grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts to produce artworks featured in Crowd Control. melissasclafani.com
Image: It’s a small world after all, 2017, chain link, steel pipe, wood, shag carpet, 96 x 120 x 120 inches.