By Douglas Yu
A couple of blocks away from Conway Park in Somerville, an “art hacker” is working on one of her latest pieces as her friend’s birthday present in an open multifunctional workshop called the Artisan’s Asylum.
Melissa Glick is playing around with a piece of artwork her friend made years ago. It is a nude and athletic female body, painted with pink color and white circles. By the end of this February, this painting will be decorated with remnants from various electronic devices.
Glick “hacks” remnants from electronic devices, especially computers, and makes them something beautiful.
“A hacker is someone who takes things apart and makes something else with them,” Glick said. “I take apart computers and make them two-dimensional and three-dimensional collages. The pieces inside the computers will be the building blocks for my sculptures.”
Glick is an artist, educator and administrator. Before working at Artisan’s Asylum, she owned a workshop in Cambridge. That is where she started her earliest metal assemblage, an art form that makes compositions by putting together found objects.
“Joseph Cornell is the father of assemblage,” Glick said. “He was a mailman in New York and he had an immense influence on modern artists. If you walk around the galleries in Somerville, you’ll see how (Cornell) influences those assemblage artists.”
Having a master’s degree in arts education, one of Glick’s biggest inspiration is to educate people with the beauty of art. She recalled the period when she worked at the Museum of Fine Arts.
“I love showing people around in art museums,” she said. “Everyone understands art. They just need guidance to show them the purpose and beauty of it.”
Glick’s artworks are full of shapes, lines and colors. And these can be found in cable wires, electronic chips and even metal sheets under your computer keyboards.
Back in the ‘60s, Glick’s father worked at Raytheon, a major American defense contractor and industrial corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military electronics. He saved a lot of things from the company that were outdated and tried to create things out of them.
“He was one of the earliest recyclists,” Glick said. “He used to bring home a cable of wires, like the telephone wires. He would make sculptures or little animals with them.”
When Glick’s father passed away six years ago, she inherited her father’s collections and started creating artworks. The shapes and colors of those remnants transform into different three-dimensional frame arts through Glick’s hands. Some of her artworks include Christmas tree glass balls filled with shining electronic chips and a string of kindergarteners’ chairs tumbling in the air.
“The shapes (in these artworks) are moving actually,” Glick said. “When you put this black spinning stuff and put it above a white background, you can see the shadow is moving. It’s caused by optical illusion. It’s beautiful and pleasurable to look at.”
Boxes and boxes of remnants are ready for Glick to put together and make into any forms of dimensional art in her workshop. A radio body, a corner of a magazine or a light bulb can be inspirations for her.
“I’m giving (those remnants) a purpose,” she said. “I see beauty in other people’s throwaways.”
For more Glick’s artworks, you can view them through www.etsy.com/shop/Melsplace