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A 20 Year Retrospective







When I was a kid I watched a lot of TV. I loved the ads as much as the shows. There are jingles still stuck in my head. I’ll always remember Ajax because it was “Stronger Than Dirt! ” I loved and hated these commercials that featured hardscrabble gals at war with household grease, grime and soap scum, the wrongdoing of their filthy, feral children and their hapless, slob husbands. Women were workhorses who lived to make the world clean. I wanted to make a mess, not spend my life cleaning them up.


And so I did. “Stronger Than Dirt” features 20 years of mess-making. A dust-busting, back-breaking battle of wits between me, a blank sheet of paper and a bucket of wet clay. I’ve made a home for my people, real and created. The push and pull of relationships. The beauty, flotsam and jetsam of culture writ small. 


This is work from the mean streets of Manhattan to the dirt roads of the Catskills. Welcome to my brain. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry- It’s better than Cats.


But as for me…I may be bent, but never broken. I’m stronger than dirt.

–Melissa Stern May 2021



143 West 20th NY, NY 10011  


2021    Stronger Than Dirt- Lockwood Gallery, Kingston, NY
2020    Does She Or Doesn’t She?- Firecat Projects. Chicago, IL.
2018    Strange Girls – Garvey Simon, NY, NY
            The Talking Cure - Kranzberg Center For Contemporary Art. 
2017     You’re Soaking In It - Station Independent Projects, NY, NY
2016    The Talking Cure - The Weisman Art Museum. Minn. MN
           Loose Lips - The Univ. Of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.
            The Talking Cure - Redux Contemporary Art Center, Charleston, SC
2015    The Talking Cure - Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT
2014    A Year In Pictures - Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, Canada
            The Talking Cure - Akron Museum Of Art, Akron Ohio. 
2012    The Talking Cure - Smart Clothes Gallery, NY, NY (Catalogue)    
            The Talking Cure - Fetherston Gallery, Seattle, WA. 
2011    New Math- Drawings - Fetherston Gallery, Seattle, WA
            Life During Wartime – Heads - Barbara Archer Gallery, Atlanta, GA.
            New Sculpture - Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, Canada
2009    Step Right Up - Bahdeebahdu Gallery, Philadelphia PA
            Coming Up For Air - Fetherston Gallery, Seattle WA
            Loose Lips - Drawing Exhibition - Milsaps College, Jackson, MS
2008    A Common Space - Barbara Archer Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2007    Above The Belt - Studioswan, Atlanta, GA
            Family Values - Gallery 31 North, Glen Gardner, NJ
2006    Loose Lips - Drawing Exhibition - Zihlka Gallery, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
            Birdland - David Lusk Gallery, Memphis, TN
2005    Family Values - Weisspollack Gallery, NY, NY 
2003    Vacation - Spike Gallery, NY, NY 
            My Friends - David Lusk Gallery, Memphis, TN
2002    Back To School - The Children’s Museum Of The Arts, NY, NY (Catalogue)
2001    New Work - Ballard Fetherston Gallery, Seattle, WA 
            Third Grade - John Elder Gallery, NY, NY
2000    New Work - Bachelier-Cardonsky, Kent, CT
1999    Wax Works - David Lusk Gallery, Memphis, TN
1997    Drawings - Mia Gallery, Seattle, WA
1996    New Sculpture - Bachelier-Cardonsky Gallery, Kent, CT
1995    Drawings - Mia Gallery, Seattle WA
1994    Small Sculpture - Diana Burke Gallery, NY, NY
1993    Friends - Mia Gallery, Seattle, WA
1990    Chairs - Artrages, Amsterdam, Netherlands 
1988    New Work - Primitivo Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1986    Homesites - Arts Council Of San Mateo County, Belmont, CA
Chairs - Clodagh, Ross, Williams Gallery, NY, NY

2020    Claytopian New York- Plaxall Art Center, Lic, NY
            Domestic Brutes- The  Pelham Art Center. Pelham, NY
2019    The Impolite Aesthetic- Joseloff Gallery, Univ. Of Hartford. Hartford, CT.
            Be Mine- Labspace, Hillsadle, NY
            Domestic Matters -Peter’s Valley Art Center, New Jersey
2018    Pop Goes The Weasel - Williamsburg Art And Historical Center, NY, NY
            The Big Small Show - Drawing Rooms. Jersey City, NJ
2017    We The People - Serving Notice - The American Museum Of Ceramic Art, Pomona, CA    
2016    Talk Talk - Central Booking Gallery, NY, NY 
2016    Cognitive Dissonance - Spartanburg Museum Of Art, Spartanburg, SC
2015    Money, Wheels And Random Legs - Firecat Projects, Chicago, IL