Melissa Haviland is an artist whose work straddles the boundaries between printmaking and installation-performance. She highlights feminine and upper class Western objects. She researches class structure, family upbringing, and the formation of societal roles through a focus on stereotypical ‘upper class’ objects and their associated etiquette rituals.
Haviland has focused her recent studio life on the creation of artworks that highlight feminine and upper class objects, such as fine china. Her interest in fine china begins with the connection of her name—Haviland–to the Haviland china manufacturer. This company has a strong 200-year history of producing exquisite, high-end tableware–once the favorite china to the White House. Fine china symbolizes the economic elite and emphasizes a desire for a life of status, and of structure. Haviland explores fine china through a feminist lens. Today, as throughout its history, sets of fine tableware are primarily purchased for new brides or inherited through the maternal line. In addition the table has connotations of domestic life, family dinners and references to traditional women’s roles.
Haviland & Colagiovanni
Collaborative Artist Statement
Since 2010 Melissa Haviland has committed half of her art making practice to collaborating with video artist, David Colagiovanni. Within this collaboration (called ‘Haviland & Colagiovanni’) Haviland often acts as producer/director while Colagiovanni acts as cinematographer/editor. Though the nature of their research roles within the collaborative are fluid and not clearly defined. In addition moving picture and sound work, Haviland & Colagiovanni, create exhibitions including photographs, print works and sculpture activating the residue of their performative picture making practice.
In 2010 Haviland & Colagiovanni began filming their first video and sound work “Music for Teacups”, which captures teacups falling, breaking, and sounding out their last notes. In 2011 Haviland received a Baker Fund Award to produce their second video piece “Dinner Music”, a 14-minute video and sound work using footage of 7 full sets of china falling and breaking on a dining room table. Funding from an Ohio University Research Council (OURC) Award in 2011 allowed Haviland & Colagiovanni to visit porcelain china factories in England, France, and Germany. This research fueled the editing of “Music for Teacups” and “Dinner Music”, as well as many future pieces.
The pair has three large, current projects—“Banaras” funded by a 2014 OURC Award, “Fiestaware” funded by a 2014-2015 College of Fine Arts Creative Research Award, and “AntiGravity” funded by a 2015 Baker Fund Award. “Fiestaware” is a photography and video project capturing footage at the Homer Laughlin china factory dump—filled with a rainbow of Fiestaware shards. “AntiGravity” is a series of large format (20” x 24”) Polaroid images taken of objects as they fall. It will be completed during a large shoot in Pittsburgh during the fall of 2015. Haviland & Colagiovanni traveled to India for the first time together over winter break 2014-2015 to film local earthenware cups called bhar. They participated in an Artist in Residence program at Kriti Gallery in Varanasi.