About Melissa Pokorny
Melissa Pokorny is a sculptor whose work has been exhibited at venues across the United States. Solo shows at Devening Projects + editions in Chicago; Platform Gallery in Seattle; and Front Room Gallery in New York augment a long career of gallery exhibitions. Pokorny received her BFA in Ceramics, with a minor in Fibers from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and an MFA in Studio Art from the University of California at Davis. Her professional exhibition career began in the Bay Area in 1989 with Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco. In 2001, she relocated to Urbana, Illinois and began exhibiting in Chicago with Bodybuilder and Sportsman. Selected group exhibitions include venues and project spaces such as Yerba Buena Gardens, Southern Exposure, Victoria Room, and New Langton Arts in San Francisco; Foodhouse Gallery in Los Angeles; Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois, Chicago; The Glass Curtain Gallery at Columbia College; The James Hotel, Devening Projects + editions, Heaven Gallery, and Slow in Chicago. Other venues include The Galleries at Illinois State University; Violet Poe Projects; DEMO Space; Terrain Projects;The Richard Peeler Art Center at Depauw University; The John Michael Kohler Arts Center; and The McCarthy Art Gallery at Saint Michaels College. Her work is held in collections by the Orange County Museum of Art; the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; The Richard L. Nelson Museum at UC Davis; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and The Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois.
A life-long educator, Pokorny is a professor in the Studio Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she also serves as the Executive Associate Director of the School of Art and Design. She has received multiple awards and residencies, including a 2022 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship; the University of Illinois Program For Research in the Humanities Ragdale Residential Creative Fellowship; a 2007 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship; multiple professional project support grants from the Illinois Arts Council; and the Efroymson Arts Fellowship. Residencies include the Skaftfell Arts Center in Seydisfjordur, Iceland; The Ucross Foundation in Ucross, Wyoming; and the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, IL. Pokorny lives in Urbana, IL.
Research and publications
Ongoing and upcoming research
I make sculptures and installations using lens-based and textile methods along with more traditional 3D materials and processes. My conceptual sources are found in the natural world, in landscape practices, and in the vitality and pull of the material world of non-human things. My process foregrounds collecting—found objects, weird materials, non-traditional images of landscapes, and personal or utilitarian possessions. I combine these elements to fabricate assemblages that raise questions about ways of knowing the world, and how meaning is made through contrived relational systems. The resulting formal engagements and material interactions work to both complicate and reveal the entangled complexities between multiple realities and worlds.
Teaching and advising
ARTS 456 Advanced Sculpture/Trace:Time:Terrain in spring 2022
ARTS 210 Beginning Ceramics Fall 2021
ARTS 595 Individual Graduate Critique Spring 2021
ARTS 456 Advanced Sculpture/Mise-en-scène