Melissa Finkenbiner


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Melissa Finkenbiner
About the author

Finkenbiner was born and raised in the United States in rural Ohio. In 2008 she received a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education. Her early works in the U.S. were primarily large scaled oils of figures deliberately painted without hair, transcending culture and identity to focus in on the moment. Since 2011 Finkenbiner has been living across various continents outside of the U.S. Living this transitory life has influenced the themes and mediums of her work. In Myanmar, Finkenbiner was inspired by the serenity of people during a time of change after years of oppression. Her large oil paintings revolved around themes of changing fate as Myanmar moved across a new political and social horizon. In contrast to the large symbolic oil works, her journal of intimate ink drawings captured fleeting rhythms of quotidian life. While living in Armenia, Finkenbiner’s oils drew from Armenian Myths to illustrate contemporary life in Armenia. In addition to her oils and small ink works, Finkenbiner began experimenting with less conventional medium. Still working with ink she used upcylcled surfaces including old windows, glass bottles, and pieced together cardboard blocks. In 2016 Finkenbiner moved to Zimbabwe. Here her work has primarily been with upcycled material including handmade paper, discarded organic material, discarded glass, and scrap metal. Though figures are still her primary subject, the landscape and wildlife have worked their way in. She has moved away from canvas and uses the locally made papers as the surface for the majority of works. In her series Rural Women her subjects are the laboring women in the rural areas. Working from the real women she meets, Finkenbiner has moved from less symbolic figures to people who feel grounded. Though the majority of her work focuses on the culture of the places Finkenbiner lives, every two years she does one inked window etching from her home town. These windows came from her late grandfather’s barn and the process of creating another window is her way of connecting to her roots.