Melanie Bilenker

2010 Pew Fellow

1/8: Melanie Bilenker, 2010 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.
2/8: Melanie Bilenker, Drying, 2009. Photo courtesy of the artist.
3/8: Melanie Bilenker, Bouquet, 2009. Photo courtesy of the artist.
4/8: Melanie Bilenker, Rings, 2008. Photo courtesy of the artist.
5/8: Melanie Bilenker, A Letter, 2008. Photo courtesy of the artist.
6/8: Melanie Bilenker, After a Bath & Claw Foot Tub, 2007. Photo courtesy of the artist.
7/8: Melanie Bilenker, Claw Foot Tub (detail), 2007. Photo courtesy of the artist.
8/8: Melanie Bilenker, Garden, 2007. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“I am looking for ways to conjure a sense of home for the viewer and the often forgotten private moments that make up normal life.”

Melanie Bilenker (b. 1978) translates the historic art of Victorian hair jewelry into work that reflects upon the contemporary era. Her delicate pendants and brooches are wearable art objects, depicting ordinary moments of everyday life—making lunch, bathing, washing dishes—with “drawings” made from resin, gold, silver, and the artist’s own hair. “I am looking for ways to conjure a sense of home for the viewer,” Bilenker states, referring to both her subject matter and the medium of human hair. “I see hair as proof of existence, a souvenir.” Often cited as a leader in the movement to return to craftsmanship in jewelry making, Bilenker has received commissions from the Museum of Arts & Design in New York City, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Scotland, among others. She was recently included in the 40 Under 40: Craft Futures exhibition, featuring traditional and non-traditional works of decorative art created by the top 40 American craft artists under the age of 40, assembled for the 40th anniversary of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery.

“40 Under 40: Melanie Bilenker” by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.


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Grants & Grantees

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Grants & Grantees

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Collaborators & Colleagues

Julie Carr is the author of several books of poetry, co-publisher of Counterpath Press, and a 2011 recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.

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Collaborators & Colleagues

Sally Berger is a film and media curator, lecturer, and writer, and serves as assistant curator of the department of film at The Museum of Modern Art.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Choreographer and performer Jennifer Monson is the founder of New York City-based iLAND: Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature, and Dance.

Grants & Grantees

Headlong Dance Theater worked with a team of advisors to assess its options following the recent departure of one of its three founding directors.

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Grants & Grantees

Kim Arrow is a dance artist and a 2003 Pew Fellow.

The Village of Arts and Humanities supports the voices and aspirations of the community and inspires people to be agents of positive change through programs that encompass arts and culture, engage youth, revitalize community, preserve heritage, and respect the environment.

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