Melinda Steffy

Paintings/Mixed Media

Bach Project

Music and visual art typically occupy space and time in distinct ways. Music is time-based, linear, heard in sequence from beginning to end, with variation and movement within. Visual art—particularly traditional two-dimensional media such as painting or drawing—results in a static final product, which is spatial, immediate, perceived instantaneously, unchanging over time.

As both a visual artist and classically trained musician, I have long been fascinated by intersections between the disciplines. In my current artwork, I translate the linear, time-based format of music into spatial color patterns, so that what is normally heard in sequence can be seen all at once. Starting from masterworks by composers such as Bach and Bartók, my artwork blends color theory and music theory, revealing unexpected patterns that show the tonal and rhythmic complexity inherent in the music. The translations blend structure with fluidity, meticulous detail with the irregularity of hand-painted watercolors. They are made to look like a live performance sounds—full of precision, energy and variation.


Archived Work

Anna Magdalena’s Prelude

Drawing on one researcher’s hypothesis that Anna Magdalena Bach – the second wife of revered composer J.S. Bach – may have actually composed some of Bach’s most famous works, I am imagining how the world might look through the eyes of this talented woman hidden in the shadows of history. I am obsessively replicating the color pattern for the first prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier – one that Anna may have written – in as many different media as possible. From oil painting to latch-hook rug to beaded bracelet, the works give playful recognition to the ways women’s creativity has been expressed and repressed across time.


Material Memories

In the midst of rampant technology, I am drawn to artwork that is deliberately un-technological: processes that take time and the labor of real hands; meanings that are rooted in mythology, family history and imperfect human experience; materials that embody memories. I have been constructing abstract textile-based works that are deliberately fragmentary, to give the feeling of a nearly forgotten story or a fleeting line of music. The simplicity of a nine-patch sewing sampler intertwines with an alchemical belief that materials themselves hold symbolic meaning.

Contact Information

Philadelphia, PA
Please contact artist for purchases, commissions, etc.

Artist Bio

Melinda Steffy received a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from The University of the Arts. Her artwork has been on display at Rowan University, the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, Crane Arts, Fringe Wilmington, Sam Quinn Gallery, Villanova University, Finlandia University, Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, Lancaster Museum of Art, Micro Museum, Stamford Art Association and Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, among others, and she was prize-winner in the 29th annual Faber Birren Color Award Show. She has taught art classes and workshops for all ages and previously worked as a freelance art reviewer, covering exhibitions in the Philadelphia region.


The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA
MFA, Painting

Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA

Selected Exhibitions

The Score Is Not the Music, Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, Harrisonburg, VA

Rudimentary, The Music School of Delaware, Wilmington DE

Myth/Memory, The Hall, Inliquid at the Crane Arts Building,Philadelphia, PA

Remnants and Residual Memories, Finlandia University, Hancock, MI

Remnants and Residual Memories, Villanova University, Radnor, PA

Vegetable/Mineral, The Music School of Delaware, Wilmington, DE

Particular Memories (Amid the Vast Emptiness of Forgetting), Sam Quinn Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

MFA Thesis Exhibition, Remnant, The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Halfway, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA

Chromography: Writing in Color, Rowan University Art Gallery, Glassboro, NJ
with Gerard Brown

Benefit v.15, Icebox Project Space, Philadelphia, PA

Benefit Exhibition for BalletX, Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Benefit v.14, Icebox Project Space, Philadelphia, PA

2013 Members Exhibition: InLiquid, PPAC, Second State, The Crane Arts Building, Philadelphia, PA

Outside/Inside the Box, FiberPhiladelphia, Ice Box at the Crane Arts Building, Philadelphia PA

New Wilmington Painting, New Wilmington Art Association at Tower Hill School, Wilmington, DE

Visual Fringe, Fringe Wilmington, Wilmington, DE

Eyes on the Earth: Sustainability Through the Eyes of Artists, George School, Newtown, PA

Faber Birren Color Award Show, Stamford Art Association, Stamford, CT Prize-winner

Grand Small Works, F.U.E.L. Collection, Philadelphia, PA

Metaphoric Sunrise/Sunset, MicroMuseum, Brooklyn, NY

Currents, Studio Montclair, Montclair, NJ

Fiber National, Lancaster Art Museum, Lancaster, PA


Levels of Reality, Unreality,” The Bulletin, March 5, 2009

Ten Tactile (But Not Touchable) Things to See at ICA,” The Bulletin, March 4, 2009

The Architecture of a Community,” The Bulletin, September 17, 2008

Beauty from a Bygone Era,” The Bulletin, April 29, 2008

Puppets, in All Their Glory,” The Bulletin, March 5, 2008

Tibetan Buddhist Mandala in Process at Cathedral,” The Bulletin, January 29, 2008

Viewer’s Guide to Contemporary Art,” The Bulletin, November 30, 2007

Eye Catching Exhibits Draw Viewers Inside,” The Bulletin, November 20, 2007

Pencil-and-Gouache Exhibit at Pentimenti Contrasts the Natural with the Constructed,” The Bulletin, November 8, 2007

Textbook Perfect: ‘Anatomy of the Book’ at Fleischer Art Memorial,” The Bulletin, October 16, 2007

’Big Love’ at Locks Gallery,” The Bulletin, October 9, 2007

Revel in Renoir,” The Bulletin, October 2, 2007

A New Place to Worship Art,” The Bulletin, September 28, 2007

Daring, Deafening and Different: ICA’s New Exhibit an Interactive Romp Through Artistic Imagination,” The Bulletin, September 13, 2007

‘Flights into Fantasy’ Captures Imagination Through Illustration,” The Bulletin, September 11, 2007

Professional Experience

2011 – present
Executive Director, LiveConnections, Philadelphia, PA

Student Exhibition Consultant, Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Artist Talk & Studio Visits, Finlandia University, Hancock, MI

Lecture/Presentation, Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Art Faculty, Summer Institute for the Gifted, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA

2004 – 2006
Art Faculty, Woodland Montessori School, Harrisonburg, VA

Muralist & Instructor, Tshwane Leadership Foundation, South Africa


Images copyright © Melinda Steffy

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