I document my life in writing and am continually editing poetry together from cell phone notes, sketchbook pages and diary entries. These poems, in which the speaker longs to stand up for herself as a means to transcend heartbreak, Philadelphian ruthlessness, and the limitations of corporeality itself, are then made tactile as images and objects. In both the studio and gallery space, I play with written and physical material, transfiguring lived experience into a redeemed bedroom-pop dreamscape. I grab onto high and low influences from music, fashion, literature and cultural traditions to weave my multidisciplinary installations.
The aesthetic of the objects I make and the ways in which they are arranged are sparked in part by the Zoroastrian haftseen, a table of symbolic objects traditionally assembled in the household every spring equinox in celebration of the Persian New Year. In this context, everyday objects like flowers, fruit, candles and mirrors are able to express complex themes of identity, luck, transformation and desire for romantic love. My father assembled a simplified version of this table every March as I grew up, and it continually captured my imagination. My mother’s experiences also inspire my sculptures, particularly a story about her immigration to the mainland United States from Puerto Rico. Her family gave her gold chains and other jewelry and told her to sell them when she reached her destination. She did this but regretted having to part with these objects. Now she loves to collect jewelry, charms, chains and trinkets. Both of these sources of fascination show the ability physical objects have to carry coded meaning. They also show how objects, like experiences, can be fleeting. The springtime blooms and then bursts. Tokens of money and memory come and go, in a turning wheel of recycled energy.
Although my work is ultimately mixed-media, glass and neon are the trades I work within most. I am allured by the rich color that glows from within both of these materials, making them deeply alive and present, sometimes even buzzing. The ability of these materials to carry a slick, shiny, punchy, cutting aesthetic makes them ideal vehicles for translating the adversarial voice that often appears in my poetry and prose. Glass and neon are traditionally male dominated, apprenticeship-based fields. My choice to claim space in these industries is an inherently political statement, and I hope to be one of the people opening up these territories for more diverse participation.
Currently based in Philadelphia, Victoria Ahmadizadeh Melendez (she/her) combines poetry and prose with images, glass objects and neon signage to create layered experiences for the viewer. Her work has been shown internationally at several venues, most notably in Young Glass, a once-per-decade exhibition featuring rising glass artists under 35. Domestically, she has exhibited at Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia, Heller Gallery in New York, Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, and Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington. Ahmadizadeh Melendez has been a glassworker for over 13 years, a path that has led her to artist residencies at Pilchuck Glass School, The Creative Glass Center of America, and MASS MoCA, among others. She is the current Director of The Bead Project at UrbanGlass, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Tyler School of Art and Architecture, from which she received her BFA in Glass. She holds an MFA in Craft/Material Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University.