THE MEDUSA PROJECT
The Medusa Project is a collaborative series of paintings and mini-essays, composed and written by Liza Brenner and Melissa Meade, respectively. Informed by intersectional feminist history, material culture, and the interplay between form and narrative, each set represents one word archetype or slang for women.
Dr. Melissa Meade is Dean of Humanities, Communication, and the Arts at South Puget Sound Community College. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Washington and her B.A. from Purdue University. Before coming to Olympia, she taught communication, media and feminist studies at Colby-Sawyer College and has worked with the Library of Congress’ Radio Preservation Task Force, The Third Wave Fund, and the Feminist Technology Network. Most recently she has presented her work on communication, media and psychoanalysis to the International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education and the Northwest Alliance for Psychoanalytic Study.
The Medusa Project unfolded as the global pandemic took root, as the new civil rights movements took shape across the United States, and as climate change effects revealed themselves in the Pacific Northwest in the form of destructive wildfires, unbreathable air, and extreme heat. Initially collaborating through our individual computer screens, and now in our ever-evolving “new normal” adjustments in Olympia, Washington, we consider the ways that gender identities, in all their fluidity, weave through these contexts.
Motivated by the complicated lives of women, as well as the complications involved in talking about women, we have landed on a series of words that have animated female identity across history, contexts, and difference. For each word we articulate an image with a mini-essay, attempting to evoke fantasy, liberation, and fissure in our understandings of gender.
Liza works with vintage ephemera, including vintage picture blocks, antique figurines, and fabrics, to create arrangements for painting and digital media. These images are investigations of colors, shapes, textures and lines, an interplay of form and concept. The relationship between language and imagery is meant to be evocative rather than didactic, and exploratory rather than definitive. Melissa writes in response to Liza’s imagery, and Liza adapts her imagery in response to the writing.
“Can I Get a Taste of Your Ice Cream: Medusa as intersection of memory and desire.” International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education, Chicago, IL, 2022 (forthcoming).
#Woman Online Exhibition, Maryland Federation of Art. Annapolis, Maryland. 2022.
“The Medusa Project,” Creative Something Talk Series, South Puget Sound Community College (online). 2021.
“The Medusa Project.” Faculty and Staff Art Exhibition, Leonor R. Fuller Fine Arts Gallery, South Puget Sound Community College. 2021.