Melanie Crean is an artist and teacher working with film, performance and dissenting technologies to explore how stories can be used as instruments of justice, to equitably shift relationships of power and difference. Crean experiments with the construction of narrative to surface the absurd and surreal ways in which identity and experience are manipulated through social structures of control. She often works collectively using methods borrowed from performance and expanded cinema to reveal the histories of pubic sites to create a form of social portraiture. She studies mythic structure and the history of representing the powerful, to see how these archetypes might be reclaimed and redirected to explore the potential for personal and social change in the present.
Her ongoing project Ellipses explores how history of place is written on both body and landscape, working with the mythical structure of the Hero Journey to revisualize histories of great women which haven’t been written at all.
Her ongoing project Mirror/Echo/Tilt, created with collaborators Sable E Smith and Shaun Leonardo, experiments with how personal histories of the formerly incarcerated can be reframed from a position of power, to describe their lives in ways other than society’s ever present label as criminal.
Crean is an Assistant Professor at Parsons School of Design at The New School, teaching courses on emerging media, social engagement and visual culture. She previously directed the production studio at the arts non-profit Eyebeam; managed animation, motion capture and speech recognition teams at MTV Digital Television Lab; and produced documentaries in Nepal and India on the effects of women trafficking. Crean has received fellowships and commissions from a variety of institutions, including Art in General, Creative Capital, Creative Time, Franklin Furnace, Jerome Foundation, No Longer Empty, Performa 11 and Rhizome.