Meet Bridget Melloy, Senior Director at projects+gallery
Senior Director of projects+gallery Bridget Melloy has applied her business and art-history background to help redefine what a fine-art gallery can be. After two years seeking out and working with consignors for Leslie Hindman’s St. Louis auction branch, her savvy in forging connections contributes to how she works with Barrett Barrera artists and cross-disciplinary collaborators.
projects+gallery has both the white-cube aspect and a more amorphous, hybrid quality in terms of its relationship to Barrett Barrera. How have you taken advantage of that distinct dynamic?
Internally, and with our artists and collaborators, we often refer to the gallery as a laboratory. It’s a space where we can experiment and grant a lot of license to the artist to come to us with an idea, a proposal, and the opportunity to see it through. That often manifests itself through the different appearance of the exhibitions and how drastically the gallery changes from show to show.
What’s been really exciting the past two years is that we’ve expanded the type of artists we work with, the type of shows we do, especially working with a lot of women and artists of color. One of the shows that best demonstrates how we can transform the space was the Christine Corday show, in which all the work was very site-specific. Showing an artist who’s also a scientist, the way we were able to install the complex light grid in the space to show her Spacewalkers was a neat way to reiterate the idea of materiality, something very important to her.
That’s also a lot of work—because you’re transforming the gallery itself.
Yes, and projects+gallery is not a plug-in-place sort of space. And because we work with artists who tend not to be 2-D artists—but rather making multimedia work and site-specific installations—there are a lot of problems to solve in the gallery to see the vision of the artist through. But that’s also what makes it fun—the fact that the process and gallery are different every single time.
As far as curating and designing each show, what percentage comes out of direct involvement with the artist?
Almost 100 percent. The curation is very collaborative, which is very rewarding because it creates a close relationship with our artists. For instance, Jess Dugan and I did the layout for her forthcoming show together—the same with Dario Calmese. Often, artists have suggestions about how things should be laid out, and we’ll co-curate, and then I come in as the voice of the gallery and describe the physical limitations of the space. In that way, I feel like a curator, but also there’s a lot of trust between the artist and myself. We work closely together.
How has the expansion of Barrett Barrera affected the way you see the future of the gallery?
One of the most concrete ways is an opportunity to take the hard work that we do at the gallery and see a longer life with these traveling exhibitions. Jess Dugan’s To Survive on This Shore is probably the easiest example, but we are exploring with other artists that we’ve worked with whether shows they’ve done in the past or different iterations or different bodies of work could become future traveling shows. We’ve received a lot of interest from curators and different institutions about the programs and exhibitions we’re doing at the gallery, so it seems like a natural next step to package those shows and take them on the road.