Artist Statement

 

Embracing installations, wall hangings, paintings, and garments, my work mines autobiography and investigates current socio-political issues.  I am also inspired by traditions of craft and the history of ‘women’s work.’  My choices of materials and processes are informed by trauma and feminism; I employ worn fabrics of the domestic sphere and the mark making of stitch to convey narratives of mending and endurance. Ninety percent of my materials are repurposed textiles -- mother-in-law’s blouse, stained tablecloth, discontinued designer prints -- each communicating identity and status while revealing lived lives and embodying memory.

 

I reclaim cast offs through painting, printing, stenciling, thermo-faxing, rusting, and composting layering myself onto a past creating a new enriched surface.  In tandem, I often create large drawings to flesh out ideas and metaphors.  My multifaceted approach uses imagery from nature as a symbol of our life cycle, text to convey or imply meaning, and abstraction to mirror the cacophony and complications of everyday life.  As I stitch hundreds of snippets together, each part becomes integral to the whole, akin to the sum of the many moments that make up a lifetime.

 

I believe sharing individual stories is a powerful force connecting us to communal interests.  When I teach, I employ written and visual techniques of discovery and symbolic translation of anecdotes enabling people to communicate the inchoate.  When I construct commissioned works, my conceptual underpinning incorporates specific characteristics of context.  Relational moments of listening and the exchange of tales provide me with abundant inspiration to create.  

 

Biography

 

Merill Comeau’s work has been featured in over 80 exhibitions, at venues including the Fuller Craft Museum, Danforth Art Museum, Fitchburg Art Museum, Museums of Old York, MA; and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute of Boston.  Her installation Family of Origin is currently touring with FiberArt International 2019. The Institute of Contemporary Art Boston’s Art Lab is hosting her interactive project Threads of Connection through 2020. Highlights of her residencies include Hambidge Center for Art and Science, Southern New Hampshire University, and three month-long stays at Weir Farm National Historic Site in CT.  She has exhibited at many academic institutions including Simmons College, Lasell University, Stonehill College, Dana Hall School, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, and Phillips Exeter Academy.  Numerous publications have showcased her work, including Surface Design Journal, TextileArtist.org, Fiber Art Now, Textile Study Group of New York’s blog, Massachusetts Cultural Council’s ArtsSake blog, and World of Threads Artist Interviews.

 

In addition to her solo studio practice, Comeau facilitates the emergence of young artistic voices. A teaching artist for the Department of Youth Services since 2012, she works with youth in the Massachusetts court system residing in secure treatment centers. Her practice is trauma-informed, and uses visual expression to tell stories, transmit knowledge, and define values.  She has executed over 30 public projects resulting in individual and collaborative artworks.  She taught mining autobiographical stories for art-making inspiration at the 2019 Surface Design Association’s biennial conference in St. Louis, MO and teaches summer intensive workshops at Eliot School of Applied Arts and Craft in Boston.  In 2021 Comeau will teach at Design Outside the Lines in Ashland, OR, and the FiberArts Guild of Pittsburgh.  In addition to teaching, Comeau lectures on her work, fiber arts in a postmodern context, and visual voices of social justice. 

Selected Solo and Two Person Exhibitions

2020          Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Art Lab, Threads of Connection installation and public art project ongoing                               through 2020

                          Three Stones Gallery, Concord, MA, Nature Scrolls, upcoming June 2020

2019             Three Stones Gallery, Concord, MA Revival 

2018             Chandler Gallery, Maud Morgan Art Center, Cambridge, MA, Family of Origin

 

2017             Some Semblance Of, ArtSpace Gallery, Maynard, MA

 

2015             The PLACE Between, Hess Gallery, Pine Manor College, Chestnut Hill, MA, The PLACE Between

                     North Hill Art Gallery, Needham, MA, Artist-in-Residence: Merill Comeau

 

2014             World of Threads Festival, Canada, Oakville, Ontario, Canada, Merill Comeau Solo

 

2013             Danforth Art Museum and School, Framingham, MA, Fragments of Eden

                     McIninch Art Gallery, Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, NH, Remains of the Day

 

2012             Cell Signaling Technology, Danvers, MA

 

2011             Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Jamaica Plain, MA, Tree Pieces

                     The Center for Arts in Natick, Natick, MA

 

2010             ArtSpace Gallery, ArtSpace, Maynard, MA, Fragments of Eden

                     Concord Art Association, Concord, MA, Merill Comeau: Fiber Collage

 

Selected Group Exhibitions

2020             Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA, Human Impact: Stories of the Opioid Epidemic

                     Textile Center, Minneapolis, MN, Art Cloth Network, Full Circle

2019             Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA, 84th Regional Exhibition of Art and Craft

                     FiberArt International 2019, Pittsburgh, PA

                     Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, MA, DRESSED

                     Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA, Context: Language, Media, and Meaning from Surface Design AssociatesWeir                           Farm Weir Farm National Historic Site, Wilton CT, Women's Sphere (Is Wherever She Makes Good)

                     Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate, Boston, MA, Seat at the Table

                     Galatea Gallery, Boston, MA, Eliot School Faculty Taking Form: Fibers and Fabric

                     Umbrella Community Arts Center, Concord, MA, Migration

                     Davis Gallery, Worcester, MA, Stitched:  Knot What It Seams

2018             3S ArtSpace, Portsmouth, NH, Glass Ceiling: Limitless View

                     Surface Design Association, Order/Chaos, online exhibition

                     Bottel Stoekel Gallery, CT, Friends of Norfolk Artists, Dedication

                     Viridian Artists, New York, NY, Evil Plastic

                     New Arts Center, Newton, MA, STITCH: Syntax/Action/Reaction

2017             Lamont Gallery, Phillips Exeter Academy, NH, Possible Subject Positions

 

2016             Motherbrook Arts and Community Center, Dedham, MA,The Fragile Season

                     Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA, 81st Regional Exhibition of Art and Craft

                     Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, MA, Danforth Art Annual

2015             Three Stones Gallery, Concord, MA, Full Circle

 

2014             Museums of Old York, ME, Unraveled: Contemporary New England Fiber Art

                     Wedeman Art Gallery, Yamawaki Cultural Center, Lasell College, Newton, MA, The Sum is Larger Than It’s Parts

                     Three Stones Gallery, Concord, MA

                     Mother Brook Arts Center, Dedham, MA, Flirt

 

2013             Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, MA, Community of Artists

                     Concord Art Association, Concord, MA, A Room of Our Own

                     Dana Hall Art Gallery, Wellesley, MA, Fashion and Fiber Art

                     Nave Gallery Annex, Somerville, MA, The Knit Art House in Crochetville

 

2012             Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, MA, Off The Wall

                     Cambridge Art Association, Cambridge, MA, 68th Members Prize Show and NorthEast Prize Exhibition

                     Concord Art Association, Concord, MA, Members Juried II

                     The Warner Babcock Institute & Beyond Benign, Wilmington, MA,Tales From A Test Tube

                     NK Gallery, Boston, MA

                     Nave Gallery, Somerville, MA, Threads Bared

2011             Cushing-Martin Gallery, Stonehill College, Easton, MA, Stitched: Nature Constructed

                     Trustman Gallery, Simmons College, Boston, MA, Rumble at the Media Mash-up

                     Concord Art Association, Concord, MA, Members Juried II

                     Riverworks Gallery, Greenville, South Carolina, Textiles in a Tube

2010             Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, MA, Off The Wall, Staff Picks

                     Cambridge Art Association, Cambridge, MA, Northeast Prize Exhibition

                     Pure Light Gallery, Turners Falls, MA, Art From Detritus

2009             Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, MA, Mixed Media/Fiber,

                     Textile Center, Minneapolis, MN, Nothing New

                     Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Jamaica Plain, Artists in the Arboretum

                     Artspace Gallery, Maynard, MA, Edge

                     Concord Art Association, Concord, MA, Roddy Open Competition

                     Cambridge Art Association, Cambridge, MA, RED

                     Caladan Gallery, Nature, on-line 

                     ALL Gallery, Lowell, MA, Fabrications

                     BHCC Art Gallery, Bunker Hill Community College, Boston, MA, Art Gone Green

2008             Silvermine Guild Arts Center, New Canaan, CT, Craft USA

                     Coconino Community College, Flagstaff, AZ, Surface: Layered

                     Carney Gallery, Fine Arts Center, Regis College, Weston, MA, A Fixed Point: New Art from the Old North Bridge,

                     Gallery 51, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, MA, Bloom

                     Green Mountain Cultural Center, Waitsfield, VT, Art in the Round Barn

                     Bunker Hill Community College, Boston, MA, Women of the Cloth

                     Worcester Center for Crafts, MA, Petal Pushers

                     Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL, Clay and Fiber

                     Cambridge Art Association, Cambridge, MA, Members Prize Show

                     Cambridge Art Association, Cambridge, MA, Northeast Prize Exhibition

                     Concord Art Association, Concord, MA, A Fixed Point: New Art from the Old North Bridge

                     Caladan Gallery, Plant Life, on-line

2007             Concord Art Association, Members Juried II, Juror's Award, Lucy Lacoste

                     119 Gallery, Lowell, MA, Seek Alternative Roots

Artist Residencies

2019             Turkey Land Cove Foundation, Martha’s Vineyard, MA

2018             Weir Farm Art Center, Weir Farm National Historic Site, CT

2017             Catoctin Mountain Park, MD

2017             Weir Farm Art Center, Weir Farm National Historic Site, CT

2016             Acadia National Park, Maine

2013             McIninch Gallery, Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, NH

2012             The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Science, Creative Residency Program, Rabun Gap, Georgia

2011             Weir Farm Art Center, Weir Farm National Historic Site, Ct

2009             Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont

Artist Talks and Lectures

2020             Fuller Craft Museum, Craft Chat, Two Artists/One Exhibition

                     TextileArtist.org, Stitch Challenge

                     Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, Artist Talk

2019             Galatea Gallery, Boston, Artist Talk

                        Umbrella Center for Community Art, Concord, MA, Panelist:  Migration

2018         

                     Chandler Gallery, Maud Morgan Art Center, Cambridge, MA, Artist Talk, Family of Origin

                     New Art Center, Newton, MA, Panelist, STITCH: Syntax, Action, Reaction

                     First Parish, Concord, MA, Guest Speaker, Whose Mercy: Reflections of a Teaching Artist for the Department of Youth                         Services

2017             Phillips Exeter Academy, NH, Panelist, Possible Subject Positions

                     Weir Farm National Historic Site, Wilton, CT, Artist in Residence Artist Talk

                     Catoctin Mountain National Park, Artist in Residence Artist Talk

2016             Danforth Art Annual, Exhibiting Artist Talk

                     Umbrella Center for the Arts, Concord, MA, Panelist, Art and Healing

 

2015             Quinobequin Quilters, Needham, MA, Artist Talk

 

2014             Museums of Old York, York, ME, Guest Lecturer, Contemporary Fiber Art: An Artist’s Perspective

                  

2013             Danforth Museum of Art, Artist Talks and Workshops: Teen Docent Training Program

                          Concord Art Association, Concord, MA, Moderator: Artist Panel: Coaching Groups for Artists

 

2012             Nave Gallery, Somerville, MA, Artist Talk

                  

2011             Weir Farm National Historic Site, Wilton, CT, Artist in residence Artist Talk

                     Stonehill College, Panelist, Stitched: Nature Constructed

                     Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Artist Talk

 

2008             Endicott College Expressive Therapies Program, Beverly, MA, Guest Lecturer

                     Groton Public Library, Groton, MA, Artist Talk, Botanical Inspirations

                     Legislative Breakfast, State House, Boston MA, Guest speaker, Therapeutic Community Projects

                     Northeast Family Institute, Danvers, MA, Board Meeting, Guest speaker, Therapeutic Community Projects

                     Regis College, Weston, MA, Artist Talk, Fixed Point

                     Concord Art Association, Concord, MA, Moderator, Panel Discussion: Artists Talk about Fixed Point

 

Curating/Jurying

2020             Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, 2020 Membership Exhibition, Juror, For Your Consideration 

2009-14        Concord Art Association, MA, Juror, Members’ Exhibitions and Concord Carlisle High School Scholarship Awards

                     Franklin Art Association Members Exhibition, Franklin, MA, Juror

2013             Concord Art Association, 2013, Artist Curator, A Room of Our Own:  Eleven Artists One Self Coaching Group

2012             Concord Art Association, Concord, MA, Co-Artist Curator, Consuming Passion

                     Concord Art Association, Concord, MA, Curatorial Assistant, Present/Future: A Showcase of Emerging Artists Concord                       Art Association

2010             Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine, Interweave Press, Juror, Mixed Media Artist Competition

 

Grants/Awards

 

2019              Peter McCollum FAM Staff Prize, Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA

2018              Maynard Cultural Council, Concord Cultural Council                     

2012-14         Massachusetts Cultural Council STARS Residency grant program

2013              National Endowment for the Arts, art education grant

2012              Groton Cultural Council

2008              Concord Carlisle High School Parent Association, Concord Cultural Council

2007              Juror’s Award, Lucy Lacoste, Concord Art Association, Concord, MA

 

Public Collections

Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, MA

Lahey Hospital, Burlington, MA

Schepens Eye Research Institute of Harvard University, Boston, MA

Stamford Hospital, CT

UMass Memorial Cancer Center, Marlborough Hospital Cancer Pavilion, Marlborough, MA

Children’s Hospital Boston, MA

Children’s Hospital Boston, Kent Street Residence, Brookline, MA

Meditech, MA

North Hill, Needham, MA

80 Thoreau, Farm to Table Restaurant, Concord, MA

First Parish, Concord, MA

Professional Affiliations and Education

 

Member: Textile Study Group of New York

             Surface Design Association

             Textile Society of America

             Art Cloth Network

Psychological First Aid and Post Traumatic Stress Management, Riverside Trauma Center, Boston

Visual Thinking Strategies Practicum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Interim Program Director Training, Unitarian Universalist Association

Artists Professional Toolbox, Boston, MA

Boston University, Continuing Education, Art History

Boston Architectural College, Architecture and Interior Design

B.A., Social Theory and Political Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

© 2020 by Merill Comeau. Proudly created with Wix.com

photos by Will Howcroft Photography, Cassandra Rodriguez, Pine Manor College, Susan Bryne Photography, and Arnold Imaging

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