2012 Great Rivers Biennial: Mel Thrad

Spring 2012


Born and raised in St. Louis, Mel Trad (b. 1987) reworks existing and found materials — such as wood, steel, slate, and metal — to unpredictable yet inventive ends. Her exhibition expands her spatial investigations into matter, surface, and scale in a series of works that engage modernist and minimalist sculptural practice of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Untitled (bondage) (2012), for example, makes visual reference to the Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture Woman with Her Throat Cut (1932). Giacometti famously rested his bronze figure on the floor, challenging sculpture’s historical associations with statues and monuments but even more so, his abstraction of the female form suggested a scene of intense violence. Trad, conversely, places a steel structure that she has painstakingly bent and manipulated atop a high-gloss white pedestal. In the process, she casts her interpretative version in a distinctly feminist light, re-elevating the figure to eye level and therefore encouraging empathy and intimacy between viewer and object. In addition to her freestanding sculptures installed through the galleries, Trad will present Untitled (triptych and a half) (2012), a collection of draped banners sourced from discarded industrial fabric, in CAM’s Performance Space. 

The Great Rivers Biennial 2012 is curated by Kelly Shindler, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.