Melinda Steffy

Studio & Gallery

Philadelphia, PA

Please contact artist for purchases, commissions, etc.

New Artwork 

Ruination Day

April 14: Lincoln was shot. The Titanic hit the iceberg. The Black Sunday dust storm devastated the Midwest. Three major events in American history occurred on the same date, and each are documented in folk and blues songs.

My RUINATION DAY series is based on four of these songs: “Booth Killed Lincoln,” a 19th-century folk ballad; “God Moves on the Water” by Blind Willie Johnson; “The Great Dust Storm” by Woody Guthrie; and “Ruination Day, Part II” by Gillian Welch.

In abstract geometric paintings and drawings, I deconstruct the time-based structure of music and rebuild it as simultaneous pattern. The past and the present and the future all in one space.

RUINATION DAY is the architecture of information. The mechanics of story-telling. Muscle memory in your fingers. The echo of a tune you heard once that still rings in your ears. Fragments. It is music as a vessel we use to carry along what matters.

RUINATION DAY is repetition, nuance, catastrophe.

Archived Work

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.




Artist's Biography

Philadelphia artist Melinda Steffy re-interprets music as color patterns, exploring ideas of translation, information/data, and how music weaves throughout human experience. Her RUINATION DAY project based on folk and blues music as oral history was recently exhibited at Tiger Strikes Asteroid Philadelphia. In 2017, she was commissioned by Eastern Mennonite University (VA) to create 100 paintings based on a Mennonite hymn in honor of their Centennial, and by Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church (PA) to create a series of works based on J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Melinda’s work was selected for Tiger Strikes Asteroid NY’s 2017-2018 Flat File program, and her artwork has been exhibited at Woodmere Art Museum (Philadelphia), Crane Arts (Philadelphia), The Art Gallery at City Hall (Philadelphia), 20*20 House (PA), Rowan University (NJ), and the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival (VA), among many others. She is an artist member of InLiquid and a LEADERSHIP Philadelphia fellow, and she was a prize-winner in the 29th annual Faber Birren Color Award Show (CT). Melinda previously taught art for young children at Woodland Montessori School (VA) and has been a guest lecturer and visiting artist at Tyler School of Art (PA), Arcadia University (PA), Friends Central School (PA) and Finlandia University (MI). Also an accomplished musician, she currently serves as executive director for music education nonprofit LiveConnections and sings with the Chestnut Street Singers. Melinda received a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from The University of the Arts and a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Mennonite University.

Artist's Statement

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.

Selected Exhibitions

Ruination Day, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Philadelphia, PA

Graphic Notation: Visualizing the Music of J.S. Bach, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, Bryn Mawr, PA

The Score Is Not the Music, InLiquid @ Crane Arts, The Hall, Philadelphia, PA

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

The Woodmere Annual, juried by Eileen Neff, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA

Pattern Burst, InLiquid @ The Yard, Philadelphia, PA

Creative Women of Lansdowne, 20*20 House, Lansdowne, PA

Flat File 2017-2018, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Brooklyn, NY

10x10x100, curated by Ashley Sauder Miller, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA

POST Featured Exhibition, curated by the Center for Emerging Visual Artists, the Art Gallery at City Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Beyond Cold Polished Stones, curated by Anthony Campuzano, 20*20 House, Lansdowne, PA

Benefit v.16, InLiquid @ Crane Arts, The Ice Box, Philadelphia, PA

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

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


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

Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA