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Impart: Artist Melanie Manos believes art instills necessary sense of wonder

Melanie Manos answers a few important questions about art. Her performance piece will be projected at SiTE:LAB, 54 Jefferson at dusk.
Manos during the video shoot at Dunderstadt Video Studio at the University of Michigan.

Manos during the video shoot at Dunderstadt Video Studio at the University of Michigan. /Melanie Manos and Mark Serrahn

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This article is part of a series called “Impart” which asks local and national artists questions about art to preface ArtPrize and begin the conversation.

Read other artists' answers: 

Thomas Hammer

Gil Lelazhe Jariq

Salvador Jimenez 

Christina Mrozik 

Nate Otto

Consuelo Poland 

Mark Reigelman

Manos' previous work, "The Climb, 74 Garfield" in Detroit

Manos' previous work, "The Climb, 74 Garfield" in Detroit /Melanie Manos

Manos' shooting study for "The Climb, 54 Jefferson" at Site:Lab

Manos' shooting study for "The Climb, 54 Jefferson" at Site:Lab /Melanie Manos

Impart seeks to preface ArtPrize by asking artists essential questions about art. 

Melanie Manos is a performance and visual artist from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She does work in collage, video, performance and photography. Her work uses the physical spaces she interacts with as a metaphor for the world surrounding the viewer.

Her entry for ArtPrize, “The Climb,” is a video projection of her "climbing" a wall of SiTE:LAB's building at 54 Jefferson. The projection will portray her hiding in nooks and crannies and taking great risks. For optimal viewing, the piece will be projected at dusk every evening during ArtPrize.

What is art?

"It starts with the imagination. It comes from a human place. Some people might say their ideas come from somewhere else but it is the human coming up with ideas and then creating something that is in some ways intangible. Even if it is a painting, you are looking at it and thinking, 'what is this?' when you are seeing it for the very first time. For me, it fills that void. It offers a sense of wonder that I think is really important. Art is something that kind of takes us out of ourselves. At the same time it helps us go deeper within ourselves. You're experiencing an artwork and it reaches you on a certain level. You might feel a human connection to what that artist has expressed and that can be really profound.

"I try to give everything I see a chance. It's all so subjective. You really can't make people want to be interested."

What is the purpose of art?

"I think there is some art that kind of sets out to make people more self-aware or actually has an objective. There is other art that doesn't necessarily set out to do that and you can't predict how it's going to affect people. It's also the willingness on the viewer's side to be open to what it is they're seeing, especially with more challenging work where you might not want to go there. But if you are willing to, you might have a deeper experience because of it.

"Art saved me. It allowed for self-expression. That was really important to me when I was in my early twenties. I had this huge identity crisis. The people I wanted to be around were artists and musicians. It's because of the way they were living. Their lives were completely connected with their music or their art. I was like, 'That's the way I want to live' so there's not this disconnection. So for me I sort of grew into myself as an artist. I want to be the maker. And let my ideas come out."

Is art important? Why is art important?

"[Art] takes us away from the mundane. It elevates us to the possibilities of our imaginations. I know for me, if I am not feeling well, I need the solace of art. When you're doing your errands or your day-to-day stuff, for me that isn't enough and I need to read a great novel or I need to look at somebody's installation. I need to spend time with that and see that time as important as the day-to-day kinds of things."

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