Melanie investigates narrative as a site of reflection or reinforcement of societal power structures and over determined norms, specifically the manner in which stories (both real and fictional) supposedly centering people of the African diaspora have a long history of appropriation and erasure. Her intent is to research and seek out these marked narratives, based on a predetermined set of rules and criteria, and to re-appropriate them, using a variety of media. In doing so, she illuminates the destructive resonance of these flawed narratives by juxtaposing a reimagined version which centers a nuanced and oft-ignored humanity in such a way as to appear irreverent or banal, as if itself the norm. She also empowers herself with these stories by reclaiming them as her own and resolving the dissonance of cultural amnesia, while encouraging opportunities for meditation and discourse.
Melanie Stevens is an artist, illustrator and writer. She is the creator of the graphic novel, Black Picket Fences, and the co-founder and editor of Miss Anthology, an organization that supports and publishes racially and economically diverse young comic artists who identify as female or genderqueer. She is also the co-curator of Nat Turner Project, a migratory gallery space that grants artists of color the freedom to create or express their own language within and without the parameters of racial commodification or designation. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree for Political Science from Yale University and her Master’s of Fine Arts degree for Visual Studies at Pacific Northwest College of Art.