Melissa Aytenfisu: Solo Art Show Opening June 22nd

Style Magazine Newswire | 6/13/2023, 4:37 p.m.
Through a series of lithography prints, letterpress prints, mixed media pieces, paintings, and an installation, this exhibition explores ways in …

Through a series of lithography prints, letterpress prints, mixed media pieces, paintings, and an installation, this exhibition explores ways in which Covid 19 has exposed social and economic inequities, and profiled systemic racism in Houston. Statistics show that in Houston, as elsewhere, poor and racialized citizens get sick and die in much higher numbers than wealthier, white citizens. Covid has revealed huge systemic issues such as the historically disproportionate levels of co-morbidities and lack of health coverage among racialized Houstonians. This project brings life to the statistics and reports. It depicts the heartbreak of communities of color and reveals barriers to treatment and recovery among poor and racialized covid victims. Through the eyes of the artist, the covid mask is ironically transformed into a crucial agent in the unmasking of racism, poverty and political polarization. The mask further becomes a symbol of the physical restrictions imposed on public activities and the ironic effects of these restrictions in limiting covid spread but also limiting life-affirming social contact in communities. Countries were quick to shut down borders, limiting family visits and cutting off important support systems for so many. Finally, the mask will symbolize the resilience of oppressed communities in fighting to prevail over the pandemic. Stripped of the masks of complacency or inattentiveness or plain old prejudice, viewers of the exhibition will be challenged to ask themselves: How have we allowed such inequities in quality of life to persist over time in Houston? What can we do in the name of justice, equality and compassion, to bring down the barriers that covid has highlighted? Such thoughts have been the genesis of Covid Masks and Unmasks.

Artist Biography: Melissa Aytenfisu

Melissa Aytenfisu is a Canadian artist who specializes in painting, printmaking, mixed media and drawing. A native of Edmonton, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education at the University of Alberta, before moving to Montreal where she eventually received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Concordia University. During the years in between, Aytenfisu taught high school in Quebec, China and the United States while honing her craft and creating works that have appeared in exhibitions across multiple continents. Her experiences growing up in a multiracial family of nine and traveling through Africa, Asia, and North America have directed her artistic practice toward themes of identity, mobility and social justice. Melissa currently works at Houston Methodist Hospital Center for Performing Arts Medicine. She lives in Houston, Texas with her two small children, Tyson Bedilu and Zara Tsedenia.