Melissa has worked at the intersection of arts and social change work through different roles as a cultural worker/administrator, organizer, and educator while also developing a creative practice as a artist. Melissa contemplates culture, identity, and place, especially in relation to being part of the Asian diaspora, and explores cross-racial solidarity, language and interpretation, and the practice of listening through artistic process. Melissa has learned and collaborated with Asian American Arts Alliance, College Art Association, Kelly Street Community Garden in the Bronx, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Zines4Equity, and Arts/Admin, and was part of Arts & Labor and its Alternative Economies working group. Melissa was the 2017 inaugural 店面 artist-in-residence at Wing On Wo & Co.’s The W.O.W Project and has participated in a 2017 More Art Engaging Artist Fellowship, 2018 CCCADI Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellowship, and 2018 NYFA Emerging Leaders Bootcamp, and is currently an artist pedagogue with Borough of Manhattan Community College, where she supports Professor Soniya Munshi’s Asian American Studies course through making a public artwork with students.
“As a relatively new teaching artist with just an year of experience coming into TAP, this program provided me with valuable hands-on training in the areas of my work that I’ve been wanting to grow, such as working with different grades in public school. I came to TAP wanting to build a solid foundation as a facilitator, as I see the role of being a teaching artist and educator as most importantly being a facilitator of learning and expression through curiosity and community. I got to practice pulling my expertise in the arts together through designing curriculum in the form of a lesson plan and teaching path in collaboration on with fellow TAP trainee Sara Knudson. Through my internship at IS126Q with 8th graders in Astoria, I was able to learn from mentors Shawn Ferrerya and Jay Howard on how to bring teaching artistry to a public school classroom, which includes learning the art of building classroom culture. During TAP and because of it, I was hired as an After School Program Site Director at P.S.2 in Chinatown through the non-profit community based organization, Immigrant Social Services. Leading up to graduation, I have been attending seminars and immediately applying all that I have learned and practiced through all my TAP experiences directly to my new job. It’s exciting to say that TAP has had an invaluable impact on my current work in building an after school program for public school elementary students and also in training my after school staff, who have also received the knowledge I’ve gotten through this program.”
Most Memorable TAP Moment:
“One of my most memorable moments (there were quite a few) was at the Re-membering, Re-claiming, Re-connecting seminar with TAP facilitator Andre. Andre gave us a sound blessing through his didgeridoo, which was a special moment after a deep few hours of discussing decolonization as teaching artists, and after that, our group shared some delicious Ube bread. I am grateful that TAP makes space for art and culture to exist in these socially significant ways.”