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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
2014    Psyched - Central Booking Gallery, NY, NY
            Compulsive Narratives - Rutgers Univ., Camden, NJ
2013    Gallery Artists - Archangel Gallery, Palm Springs, CA 
2011    Naming The Animals - Curious Matter, Jersey City, NJ
            Retrofutureology - Observatory, Brooklyn, NY
2010    Paradiso Contrapasto - Observatory, Brooklyn, NY
            Pillow Culture - Dumbo Arts Festival, Brooklyn, NY
2009    The Sketchbook Project, Traveling Exhibition - Arthouse, Atlanta, GA
2008    Confrontational Ceramics - Curated By Judith Schwartz, Westchester Arts Council, Westchester, Ny
2007    Forms Of Opulence - Allen Gallery, NY, NY
            Have A Seat! - Beylerian Collection Of Small Chairs - The Museum Of Art And Design, NY, NY     
            Red - Baltimore Clayworks, Baltimore, MD
            The Inner Child - The Hunterdon Museum Of Art, Hunterdon, NJ
2006    Figurations - Sopa Gallery, Kelowna, Canada
            Motherhood: The Myth, The Magic, The Madness - Curated 
            By Leslie Matthews, Design For Living Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2005    New Talent 2005 - Co-Curated By The Museum Of Ceramic Art, New York (MOCA/NY), And

            Weispollack Gallery, NY, NY 
            3Rd World Ceramics Biennale 2005 - Ceramics: The Vehicle Of Culture -
            Invitational Exhibition, Icheon, Korea (Catalogue)
2004    Pulp Fiction - Bahdeebahdu Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2003    Encaustic 2003 - Juried Exhibition, Poughkeepsie, NY (Catalogue)
2002    Pushing Clay - Univ. Of Southern Maine, Portland, ME
2001    R&F Encaustics - Juried Biennial - Kingston, Ny (Catalogue)
1998    New Talent - John Elder Gallery, NY, NY
1996    Intimate Conversations - The Society Of Arts And Crafts, Boston, MA
1995    New York Clay - Traveling Exhibition, Stavanger, Norway (Catalogue)
1994    Viewpoints - Bachelier Cardonsky Gallery, Kent, CT
            New Generation - Elaine Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
1993    Heads Or Tails - Mia Gallery, Seattle, WA
1992    Chairs - Gallery Of Functional Art, Santa Monica, CA
            Figurative Ceramics - Mia Gallery, Seattle, WA
1991    And All Through The House - Gallery Of Functional Art, La, CA
1990    Signs Of Support - Furniture Forms In Contemporary Art -
            John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, WI
1988    Artist's Furniture Invitational - Wita Gardiner Gallery, San Diego, CA
            The Aesthetic Edge - Corvalis Art Center, Corvallis, OR
            Imaginary Landscapes - Primitivo Gallery, San Francisco, CA 
1987    Viewing The Figure - University Of Idaho, Moscow, ID
1986    Inaugural Exhibition - Clodagh, Ross, Williams Gallery, NY, NY
1984    Introspectives - Autobiographical Work By Women - Pyramid Art Center, Rochester, Ny
1983    The American Clay National - Downey Museum Of Art, Downey, Ca


- Newcity Art-Visual Art Of Chicago. January 2021. View                          
- Hec Tv - A Visual Portrait Of The Artist. St. Louis, January 2018. View
- Nationally Acclaimed Multimedia Installation "The Talking Cure”, St. Louis Post Dispatch. January 2018
- “The Talking Cure” Invites Audiences To Become Part Of The Artistic Process - St. Louis Magazine,

   Jan. 2018
- Talking Cure, Talking Heads - Minnesota Daily, September 7, 2016
- Melissa Stern’s  “The Talking Cure’ - South Carolina Public Radio, By Jeanette Guinn, June 21, 2016
- Redux's Current Exhibition "The Talking Cure” Is Multifaceted - Charleston City Paper By Connelly

   Hardeway, July 15, 2016
- The Talking Cure At Redux Contemporary Art Center - Arts Daily, May 2016
- The Talking Cure: 12 Sculptures, 12 Writers, 12 Actors - Charleston Art Magazine By Marjorie Rawle,     

  May 2016
- Money, Wheels And Random Legs - The Chicago Tribune, Oct. 15, 2015
- Sculptor Invites Writers To Tell The Stories Of Her Works At Real Art Ways - The Hartford Courant

   Review, March 5, 2015
- Don’t Miss: Figures Of Speech - The Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2014
- Melissa Stern: Off Balance Art - Feature Article, Wesleyan University Alumni Magazine, Fall 2013 
- Artnews - Review Of The Talking Cure Exhibition, January 2013
- New York Arts: The Talking Cure - Interview With Leah Oates, February     2013
- The Talking Cure - Catalogue Of The Exhibition, 2012
- Art For The Eyes And Ears: Melissa Stern's "The Talking Cure" In New York - Dujour.Com, December 2012     
- New York Arts - Nostalgic Confessions: Drawings By Melissa Stern, February 2009
- American Illustration 26: The Best American Illustrations Of 2007, November     2007
- Review Of Birdland - The Memphis Commercial Appeal, April 21, 2006
- Birdland - Catalogue Published In Conjunction With The Exhibition, David Lusk Gallery, Memphis, Tn 2006
- Clay In Art International - Published By Kerameiki Techni, Athens, Greece, 2006
- Trans-Ceramic-Art - Catalogue Of The 3Rd World Ceramic Biennale, Published By Icheon World Ceramic

  Center, Icheon, Korea, 2005
- 500 Figures In Clay - By Veronika Gunter, Lark Books, Ashville, NC, 2004
- Back To School - Catalogue Essay By Paul Karlstrom, Published By The Children's     Museum Of The Arts,

   New York, NY, Winter 2003
- Ceramic Figures - By Michael Flynn, Rutgers University Press, New Jersey, 2002
- Form & Trans-Formations - Catalogue By Judith Schwartz, Queens, NY, 1997
- New York Clay - Essay By Judith Schwartz, Exhibition Catalogue, Rogaland Kunstnersenter, Norway, 1996
- The New York Times - Sunday Review, December 15, 1996
- Chairmania - Fantastic Miniatures By George Beylarian, Harry Abrams Pub.,    
   New York, NY, 1994
- Dan's Paper - Review, Bridgehampton, New York, May 20, 1994
- East Hampton Independent - Review, May 22, 1994
- The New York Times - Sunday Review, August 2, 1992
- Contemporary American Art Craft: A Collector's Guide - Barbara Mayer, Peregrine Smith Books, Salt

  Lake City, UT, 1988
- Pronto - Cover Photograph And Article, Vol. 4-5, Tokyo, Japan, 1988
- Ars Aurea - Magazine Article, Berlin, Germany, Winter 1988


- Awarded Artist Residency - Benyamini Center For Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2014
- Awarded Artist Residency - The Washington School Of Glass, Washington, DC, 2011
- Awarded Artist Residency - The Serenbe Institute, Serenbe, GA, 2007
- Sponsors Award: R& F Handmade Paint Juried Exhibition, 2001
- Kohler Foundation Grant: Artist-In-Residence - Kohler Company,     Sheboygan, WI, 1988 And 1990


Racine Art Museum Racine, WI
The Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN
International Center For Collage, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA
Library Of Congress: Rare Books And Special Collections, Washington, DC
Museum Of Art And Design, New York, NY
The Arario Gallery, Seoul, Korea
Bear Stearns & Co. New York, NY
News Corp Inc, New York, NY
Davison Collection, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
The Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, A
Stavenger Museum, Stavenger, Norway
The Metropolitan Home Magazine Design Collection, New York, NY
The Kohler Company Collection, Sheboygan, WI
Designtex, New York, NY

1976-1980     BA Anthropology And Studio Art, Cum Laude With Honors In Anthropology, Wesleyan

                      University, Middletown, Ct

1982-1984     MFA Ceramics, State University Of New York, New Paltz, Ny

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