about the artist

Victoria Ahmadizadeh Melendez (b. 1988, she/her) combines poetry, images, glass objects and neon signage to create layered installations that draw inspiration from her Puerto Rican and Persian heritage. She has been awarded residencies at Pilchuck Glass School, MASS MoCA and the Corning Museum of Glass, among others. Her work has been shown at dozens of galleries and museums in the United States and abroad, including Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, S12, Heller Gallery, Traver Gallery and the Tacoma Museum of Glass. Her sculptures are included in New Glass Review #33, #38 and #42, annual journals documenting innovative artworks in glass. Victoria is the Director of The Bead Project at UrbanGlass, a program geared towards diversifying glass and supporting femmes as they learn how to work with the material. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Tyler School of Art, from which she received her BFA. She holds an MFA in Craft/Material Studies from VCU. 

I document my life in writing and form poetry and prose in cell phone notes, sketchbook pages and journal entries. In these poems, the speaker longs to transcend heartbreak, Philadelphian ruthlessness, and the limitations of corporeality itself. Through process-driven making and slow contemplation, these writings become bonded to the images, objects and neon lights I am making in the studio. I process influences from music, fashion, film, literature and my family’s Puerto Rican and Persian cultures to weave multidisciplinary installations, and in doing so transfigure lived experience into a redeemed dreamscape.

The arrangement of my pieces into collections or groups is inspired by the Zoroastrian haftsin, a table of symbolic objects traditionally set out in the home in celebration of Nowruz, the Persian New Year and spring equinox. In this context, normal objects like flowers, fruit, candles and mirrors are able to express complex themes of identity, luck, transformation and desire. My father assembled his version of this table every March as I grew up, and it captured my imagination. My mother’s experiences also inspire my sculptures, particularly a story about her immigration to the 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 includes elements of print, fibers, and found objects, glass and neon are the mediums I work within most. The rich color that glows from within both of these materials is important to my pieces, making them feel deeply alive and present, sometimes even buzzing. Glass can carry a slick, shiny, cutting aesthetic, making it an ideal vehicle 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.

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