MELANIE BILENKER’S work is rooted technically in 19th century hairwork – translating the historic art of Victorian hair jewelry into wearable art objects – and thematically in current snapshots of the everyday. Using a drawing technique inspired by historic hairwork, Bilenker studies a simple movement, photographs it, draws it and redraws it in single strands of hair, meticulously gluing individual strands to paper in an attempt to preserve and capture fleeting time so that it can be revisited.
Bilenker’s latest series, HomeWork, features a new series of pendants and brooches, as well as one-of-a-kind objects including a tunnel book of hair on paper, glass, brass, and wood. Also included is a series of miniature pins and pendants made in a limited edition by the artist.
HomeWork is a reflection on the invisible work that we all take part in behind closed doors. All of the time spent caring for and existing within the spaces we create that only those closest to us see. How we trim our hair over the sink, the way we hold the scissors; these are gestures rarely seen by other people, yet we can recognize ourselves in these small movements. – Melanie Bilenker
Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Melanie Bilenker received a BFA in Crafts and Jewelry from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia. Most recently her work was included in The Smithsonian Museum of American Art’s 40 Under 40 and Jewellery Unleashed at the Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnhem, Netherlands and is currently on view in the Museum of Arts and Design exhibition, 45 Stories. Her work may be found in renowned institutions around the world including the Metropolitan Museum and Museum of Arts and Design, New York City, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington D.C., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.