My interdisciplinary work examines the bizarre paradoxes inherent in ‘wellness’ practices and hyper-capitalist spirituality. I work in assemblage and fiber, constructing maximalist ritual objects, masks, and wearables from allegedly mystical goods such as crystals, candles, or religious tchotchkes. Using film and photography, I document the activation of these objects to sardonically demonstrate their healing properties.
In Rose Quartz Weighted Blanket I speak to the mythologies of rose quartz, specifically its alleged power to ‘draw in’ love, open the heart chakra, and spark romance. However, the passionate properties of the rose quartz must be wielded with caution; crystal spikes point outward to protect wearers of the blanket from advances from untoward lovers. In a time when bodily autonomy and reproductive choice is not guaranteed, the magical defense provided by the blanket becomes even more essential.
My work is informed by both surrealism and camp aesthetics that center performance, costume, and craft to destabilize and queer identity. Through this lens, I build strangely magical worlds—vulnerable and darkly humorous—wherein my subjects try to stay resilient in the face of stress. I immerse viewers in uncertain moments and ambiguous borderlands: liminal spaces that allow us to confront otherness and open up possibilities for unconventional methods of wellness.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Melanie Brewster (b. Miami, Florida) lives and works in New York City where she is currently completing her MFA at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). She previously earned her PhD from the University of Florida in 2011 and is a licensed psychologist and professor. Brewster’s interdisciplinary art and scholarship focuses on how marginalized communities cope with stress and stigma; she has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles and a book, Atheists in America, on these topics. Her 2D and 3D works address the peculiarities of spirituality under late-stage capitalism and creates faux ‘wellness’ practices via fiber, collage, and assemblage.
© Melanie Brewster