Melissa Vandenberg

beta pictoris gallery is excited to present S.O.S., Vandenberg’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Drawing on fifteen years of innovation across a diverse range of media including sculpture, works on paper and performance, in S.O.S. Vandenberg challenges viewers, ever so softly, to consider their personal constructions of self, identity, place and nation. As she states on her website, “identity is in the home we create, the goods we possess and in the land we live.

Anchoring S.O.S. is a series of works through which Vandenberg continues to explore her fascination with the iconography of identity. In Sink or Swim: Family Style (shown above), three life vests fashioned from salvaged American flags hang from a handmade wall-mount.

Repetition is a motif central to Vandenberg’s production. Recalling Gilles Deleuze’s pronouncement that only that which is alike differs, and only differences are alike, Vandenberg inserts selected symbols, such as stars or stripes, and certain texts, such as the word EXIT, within many of her works. Both the three-dimensional Clouds of Vertical Development – a hand-fabricated, multi-media three-dimensional Exit sign with an electrical cord tail, and EXIT, a collaged multi-media photograph from the Seen, Not Heard series, each use a typographically similar text. It is almost as if Vandenberg has taken the negative space created by removing the term from the former and layered it over the latter creating an oscillating relationship between these two series.

It is this type of subtle understandings of the ways in which an artist can move within and between media that makes Vandenberg’s long history as a practitioner evident. Rather than be trapped within the confines of a medium for fear of stepping outside it, she is as comfortable within one as she is within another. She also revisits methods, but reinterprets their meanings. Drawing on the matchstick drawing methods of her 1998 Untitled (Match Drawing Series) (image hereunder) works, Vandenberg is now producing new pieces which scorch paper, but she has turned towards the figurative, using many of the same icons that appear in her collages and three-dimensional works.

Untitled (Match Drawing Series)

burn on paper
ca. 35 by 29 in.


fabric, twine, polyester
ca. 13 by 18 by 12 in.

private collection, Richmond, KY


feed sacks, twine, mails, electric cord, wood
ca. 42 by 24 by 42 in.

private collection, Carbondale, IL


wood, metal
ca. 18 by 42 by 10 in.

private collection, Memphis, TN

Stump performance
Surplus Gallery @ the Glove Factory,
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL



cardboard, lights, fabric
dims variable

White on White

colored penci and pencil on paper
ca. 22 by 28 in.

Siamese Flag

watercolor and pencil on paper
ca. 16 by 22 in.

Untitled (Flag Study)

fingerprints on folded paper
ca. 16 by 20 in.

Untitled Gravestone

linen, polyester
ca. 19 by 19 in.
ca. 46 in. high

Measure of a Man

Victorian Die cuts, lace, lead, pencil on paper
ca. 20 by 16 in.

private collection, Birmingham, AL

Righteous Branding

burn marks on Arches paper
ca. 16 by 20 in.

private collection, Birmingham, AL

Disorderly Conduct

burn marks on Arches paper
16 by 20 in.

private collection, Houston, TX

Come Undone

zippers on board
ca. 26.5 by 26.5 in.

private collection, Birmingham, AL

visit Melissa Vandenberg's website :