May 24, 2020

Laura Best on Melinda Bergman

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SMoCA staff members each chose an artwork from our collection exhibition Unapologetic: All Women, All Year to highlight. Exhibitions Manager, Laura Spalding Best, selected Melinda Bergmans’s work Pretty Teeth from the installation Every Way in is a Way Out (2009) to focus on and had this to say about her work:

“This is one of my favorite permanent collection works. I got to experience the initial creation and installation of this work firsthand and think of Mel every time I install it and try to channel her aesthetic and intention. For me this work is powerful in that it lures you in with pastel candy colors, and then, when it is too late, you find that you are in the jaws of jagged shadows and broken connections.”

About Melinda Bergman

Pretty Teeth was created for the 2008 exhibition Every Way in is a Way Out, Melinda Bergman’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States. Bergman’s use of materials is as varied as her multi-disciplinary background and influenced by her time in Sweden and Arizona. The artist often references common, everyday things in her work to establish a familiar connection with the viewer. In this case wooden dowels and colorfully painted balls are suspended from the ceiling in a manner that may be initially interpreted as whimsical, but closer inspection reveals a work full of tension, casting ominous shadows and gloomy landscapes.

“At the heart of Bergman’s work lies her distress at the monstrous urban worlds we are creating across the globe, and the negative psychological impact these soulless spaces have on both individual and the social body. Her works are updated de Chirico-esque landscape of great beauty and unavoidable menace, reflecting her simultaneous awe and repulsion at the irrationality of our modern Western world.”—Marilu Knode from the exhibition brochure Every Way in is a Way Out.