Melissa Huang, an interdisciplinary artist living in Statesboro, Ga., explores the multiplicity of identity in her paintings and prints. Her glitch-inspired painting and video self-portraiture studies the desire, failure, and dissonance associated with portraying an idealized self for a largely digital audience.
An installation of her work, Prismatic, was on view Jan 20 – April 23, 2022 in the East Gallery of the Albany Museum of Art.
An assistant professor in 2D Foundations at Georgia Southern University, Huang notes that the way a person is perceived and presents to others changes from person to person. “A different version of you exists in the minds of your family, friends, colleagues, strangers, and digital audience; none of which encompass your complete identity,” she said. “Rather, each of these fragments comes together to paint a fuller picture of ‘you.’”
Huang said she was fascinated by the ways people construct these identities. “Contemporary culture is obsessed with perfection, and digital image manipulation has blurred the lines between reality and the idealized self, creating an unsettling gap between who we really are and how we wish to be perceived,” she said. “Much of our public image has become simulacra, representations of ourselves stripped of personal meaning and imbued with culturally constructed meaning.”
Technological advances have made it possible for people to create entirely new selves that exist only in digital form. Huang uses Photoshop to “create warped, ghostly second images of the self, then captured in oil paint. By translating these digital manipulations into the oil medium, I relate our current obsession with images of the self to the long history of the portrait painting tradition.”
Huang earned her MFA in Drawing and Painting from the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design at Georgia State University and her BFA in Fine Arts Studio from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She has exhibited nationally and abroad, with a 2021 solo exhibition at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art and has been included in group shows at the Hongik Museum of Art, Whitespace Gallery, and Kyoto International Community House. Huang has been featured in publications including Fresh Paint Magazine, Art House Press, and Stone Canoe.