Melanie Carr

Visiting Artist for ECoCA A.I.R. 19


Melanie Carr, artist and owner of Melanie Carr Gallery in Essex, CT will be serve as ECOCA A.I.R. Visiting Artist this summer. She will conduct individual studio visits with the nine artists who have be selected to participate in 2019 artist workspace residency at ECOCA.


SUMMER EDITION   July 1 - August 25

ECoCA is proud to introduce its third A.I.R. workspace program which reinforces our mission to reaffirm Grace Ely’s testamentary wishes for an art center where artists, arts organizations and the public assemble, exchange, learn, and engage through exhibitions, performances, and emerging contemporary practice.

Artists and collectives each occupy a room in the John Slade Ely House Galleries, a 1905 English Elizabethan style house, to produce work that includes film, painting, illustration, video and social practice. Special programming will be announced throughout the month—studio visits, workshops, panels, conversations, screenings, and other pubic events—all driven by the artists-in-residence.

Join the EC0CA mailing list to receive updates about programming.


Melanie Carr is a Connecticut based artist, educator and gallerist. Carr received her MFA from the College of Art and Design at Lesley University in 2011 after serving in the United States Navy. Carr spent over 10 years at the New Britain Museum of American Art in various roles including Curator of New Media. She is now Adjunct Professor at Central Connecticut State University and the University of Connecticut where she teaches drawing and foundations.

In 2017 Carr opened a thriving gallery, studio and project space in Essex, Connecticut. The Melanie Carr Gallery presents thoughtfully curated exhibitions by artists and curators, and provides a space for artists to realize projects and showcase their work. Additionally, Carr works with the Founder & Executive Director of the Five Points Gallery in Torrington in a development capacity.

Carr’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Soapbox Gallery, NY, Stockman Gallery, New Britain, CT, City Arts on Pearl, Hartford, CT, Westport Arts Center, Westport, CT, and Pegasus Gallery, Middletown, CT. In addition, Carr’s work was included in numerous exhibits that include The Point, United Kingdom, Gibney Dance, NYC, Gallery Aferro, New Jersey, The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington, Mattatuck Museum, CT, Hans Weiss Newspace Gallery, CT, and Herter Gallery, MA.

Marsha Borden

What is your art for this residency all about?

 I am currently developing a body of work around slow textiles, including found cloth and symbolic pieces of clothing.  Through deconstruction, reconstruction, stitch, and natural dye processes, my goal is to transform specific fragments and bits of textile into contemporary art pieces that comment on current social and environmental themes.  My work involves mark making with needle and thread and is slow and contemplative. 

 Why is there a large quilt hanging on the wall in your studio?

 This quilt was made in the 1930’s or 1940’s which makes it somewhere around 80 to 90 years old.  It is very inspirational to me and I admire its textural richness – the rips, tears, holes and stains that mark the passage of time and remind me of the beauty of imperfection.  I’m interested in the fullness of cloth and the stories contained within it.

 What is your background?  Why do you make art?

I was born and raised in upstate New York in the 70’s.  My favorite piece of clothing from my childhood was a pair of red plaid bell bottoms.  I still have them.  Although I hold Bachelors, Masters and pre-doctoral degrees in science, teaching, and mental health areas, I’ve been making art as an outsider for the past four years.   I make art because I have something to say that I can’t say any other way but through the labor of textile manipulation and stitch.

@marshamakes on Instagram

Dymin Ellis

“I stand firmly for the liberation of Black and brown people, and queer people. I use artwork as a form of activism and revolution against the systems that oppress these communities. As a spiritual person, my art currently focuses on the intergenerational trauma of Black people. I aim to address specific traumas and their effect on the individual Black body as well as its effect on the Black community in a collective sense. I also illustrate methods of healing — holistic and spiritual healing — curated for Black endurers of trauma. I employ my knowledge as a certified Reiki healer and self-taught energy worker in my artwork.

My most recent project will focus on reclamation of space. Centering Black queer people and their experiences, I’m working on seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, and tasting Black people in place we are typically not welcome or invited in - places others usually don’t see us. This project will use mediums like photography, music, sound, videography, and culinary art.”

@indigaux_ on Instagram

Jennifer Florio

@jenwax11 on Instagram

ArtGuy Pat

“Structure, particles, waves, and energy are expressions of the natural world. In a parallel sense, intuitive, physical, & emotional energy is expressed in my paintings. It is the raw material I work with, using an array of tools, a palette of pigments & media, which create line, shape, texture, movement, impression & expression, bursting with color & energy.

Painting is existential freedom for me, limited only by my imagination, energy, & materials. I am a messenger of memories, images, ideas, & feelings.

Being an artist for me is the possibility of creating visual harmony & beauty out of the chaos, anxiety, & insecurity of human existence today. Out of this transformation comes a message of emotional exuberance, compassion, optimism, redemption, & pure celebration of being.”

@goodartguy on Instagram

Janet Warner

“I have been working on painting the city of New Haven from East Rock, and have done so by painting onsite and from memory in the studio. I recently started to break from the idea of what it looks like in life, and I am adding my own interpretation of the city into the paintings allowing for an investigation of mixing the real, with the imagined. I have been exploring brush stroke style, color palette, and size of the canvas all while keeping with the same subject of the city allowing for a deeper exploration of materials, and inventiveness.”

@JanetMWarner on Instagram

Leah Caroline

Leah Caroline, a New Haven artist, was raised in the Chassidic community of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. She works with cyanotype printing, digital media, and installation—documenting nature and Jewish texts. Her exhibits include solo exhibitions and a commission by Artspace Inc. for site-responsive work for City Wide Open Studios in New Haven, CT. She was an artist in residence at Weir Farm in Wilton, CT; Art Kibbutz on Governors Island; and currently at ECOCA in New Haven. I also worked on a collaborative video animation with Jeremy S Horseman, which was exhibited at the Jerusalem Bienale in 2017.She is the co-founder and artist teacher of the Connecticut Artists’ Beit Midrash and leads art workshops. Caroline lives and works in New Haven, CT with her husband and five children.

@leahccaroline on Instagram

Cristina Sarno

“Who ate my sweater? My paintings revolve around the theme of how much moths love soft yarns like cashmere. Oil paint and cashmere are both "luxurious mediums", similar to the soft texture of the wings of a moth. I'm painting them as if they were portraits of people. There's a few ways to paint from the specimens. One way, (and this is what I'm doing) is to observe without intentionally capturing the moths. The opposite of what the people who collect moths do. If I just observe and allow the moths to fall down dead, fly away or land on a leaf I'm taking visual pictures in my mind the entire time. I have a bit of a photographic memory. This makes my painting easier since I paint directly from head. What is in my mind is what I paint. Keeping the famous quotation in mind: ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.’ - Albert Einstein, What Life Means to Einstein (1929).”

@cristinasarno13 on Instagram

Saron Garnes

“I was introduced to clothing swaps through a queer organizing space that I was in, and the purpose behind it was to give space and agency to people who may want to wear something that doesn’t ‘match’ the gender that they were assigned at birth. Going into stores to shop can create a lot of stress and fear; say if you are trying to get something from the women’s section and you were assigned male at birth, then there might be tension with the people around you judging you or attacking you - body dysmorphia and gender dysphoria place a role too. So clothing swaps for me started with the desire and the need for people to be able to get clothes without having to deal with that stress, fear, or trauma.”

@gender.eater on Instagram

Stephanie Lush-Mastriano

“I am a diverse artist working in a variety of mediums and styles, both 2D and 3D. I use art as a means to explore sociological, anthropological, spiritual, and political perspectives. My artwork has multi-layered meaning and symbolism, making connections with historical and cultural influences in modern contexts. My goal is to encourage empathy, compassion, and equality through my art. I want you to embrace the commonalities that we share while also celebrating and embracing your uniqueness, roots, and heritage. I place an emphasis on nature and our relationship with the environment, hoping to inspire a sense of reverence and responsibility. I believe that art is a tool for meditation and communication, for creating bridges and building community. I am a visual artist, an instructor, and an event organizer.”