CREATORS | 30 July 2017

Signe Pierce’s work is on show at ‘The Future of Her’ by Galeria Melissa in New York.

Signe Pierce’s Work for Galeria Melissa Merges Liquid, Light, and Media

By Alexandra DiPalma

It makes sense that Lisa Frank was one of artist Signe Pierce’s first great visual influences. Scrolling through Pierce’s Instagram or Tumblr, where she showcases much of her work, the aesthetic connection is immediately apparent. Bold usage of color, an eye for beauty in the everyday, and a psychedelic warping of reality are visual traits that both artists share. Pierce aptly describes her own aesthetic as “Techno Deco Hyperrealism”.

The Future of Her is an interactive art project presented at Melissa’s brand-new SoHo concept store, Galeria Melissa, featuring art and video installations curated by Kelsey and Rémy Bennett, and featuring Sam Cannon and Signe Pierce, as well as multimedia architecture from Brazilian visual artist Muti Randolph. In the fourth of our series of profiles on the crew of artistic minds lending their talents to the shop, we spoke to Signe Pierce about the inspiration for her latest installation.

You can trace a straight line from Lisa Frank’s legendary neon dolphins to Pierce’s own highly-saturated neon palate, but that’s not to say that Pierce, a New York-based reality artist, hasn’t studied up on the greats. “I have really vivid memories of seeing Van Gogh’s retrospective at LACMA when I was 8, and a Frida Kahlo show when I was 10,” she said over email.

But it’s Pierce’s openness to new and unusual influences that makes her such a relevant artist today. “To be honest, Lisa Frank was my first love,” she said. “Her studio was in my hometown of Tucson, AZ and I would see her murals all over town. Her usage of color and eye for beauty has undoubtedly left a lasting impression on me.”

Pierce works in a variety of mediums, ranging from photography to performance art to installations like the one featured in the storefront of Brazilian footwear designer Melissa’s new concept shop in SoHo.

She began using the term “reality artist” to capture the freewheeling nature of her art and the way she uses her own life as a canvas and medium for her work. “If you mix that concept of a reality star with the identity of an artist, it can be extended to mean something much more unlimited than just referring to myself as a ‘performance artist.’” Pierce explains.

The operative word in “performance artist” is of course “performance,” which implies that there’s an act being played out. But a lot of times in Pierce’s art, she’s just being herself. The person you see on screen is actually her. Much of Pierce’s work explores this very concept: What is reality, and what do we perceive to be real? Consider her recent photography exhibition, Faux Realities, a collection of images that range from the interior of a donut shop on the edge of the Hollywood Hills to a vivid, up-close image of a Kawasaki Angel. “I want people to look at the images and question what informs our perception of reality, especially when it’s being presented to us in the form of a photograph or a video,” Pierce said.

Looking at Pierce’s art makes certain questions come to mind. Are the subjects and locations in each image authentic? Were they staged? Is the lighting real? How much Photoshop was used in the editing process? These are the questions that she wants you to be asking, especially in a time when it’s rare to see a photo without a beautifying filter or misleading edit. “It’s about questioning media manipulation, and what constitutes actual reality versus alternative facts,” she said.

Speaking of alternative facts: much has been made of art in the time of Trump, and Pierce has spent time thinking about it, too. In times of political turmoil, artists are expected to respond to the issues of the day. Pierce believes that these are the moments in which art moves forward. “Art thrives under the pressure of political fuckery,” she said. “It drives us to fight harder and meaner and louder than we ever would’ve when we were a little more comfortable.”

This August, Pierce’s latest work will be featured at Melissa’s brand-new SoHo location. Her work will be part of a show called The Future of Her (other artists involved are Sam Cannon, and Muti Randolph, and the whole thing is curated by Kelsey and Rémy Bennett). With this piece, Pierce turns the store’s immersive room into her own “pod,” combining visual, interactive and performance elements that radiate from her space.

“I always knew that I wanted to do something involving overhead projections, and making people feel as though they were bathing in the lush, colorful world that I’m known for cultivating,” Pierce said of the installation. “The videos that are being projected in the space are from a series I’ve been working on called ‘Electrotexture.’ It’s essentially a mergence of liquid, light, and media.”

Check out the installation to experience it for yourself. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for much more from Signe Pierce. “I’m finally reaching a level in my career where it’s seeming like I might actually be able to make some of my wildest dreams come true. I wanna turn those dreams into reality art.”

Melissa is a celebration of design. Created in 1979, the brand is recognized worldwide for the innovative works on its key raw material, a recyclable PVC (100% cruelty-free!), with an irresistible scent. Melissa has associated itself with iconic names in design, fashion and art, collaborating with Jeremy Scott, Vivienne Westwood, Karl Lagerfeld, Campana Brothers, Zaha Hadid, among others. Although it was born in Brazil, Melissa is a global brand not only because it can be found in 96 countries but also for its cutting edge aesthetic which surprises fans all around the globe.

Galeria Melissa, at 500 Broadway in New York, NY is the third of its kind, joining the flagship in São Paulo, Brazil and Covent Garden, London. It opened to the public on July 27. Admission to view The Future of Her is free during retail hours through early September.

Previous Galeria Melissa installations include; Zaha Hadid, Karl Lagerfeld, Jeremy Scott, Gareth Pugh, Vivienne Westwood, Claire Barrow, Walt Cassidy, Karl Lagerfeld, Edson Matsuo and EPFL+ECAL Lab, David Thomas Solution and SOFTlab, Natalie Kates, Sebastian Errazuriz and more.

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