Melissa Rivera


Artist Statement



Melissa Rivera '21 is a painter and poet majoring in CSRE. They have created a prayer book that includes digital art work that encompasses their hopes of healing intergenerational trauma, as well as metabolizing the archival memory that resides in the body. Recognizing the power of intention in manifesting a new radical reality, Melissa is envisioning a world where boundaries are redefined, all the possibilities of one's gender are realized, and the prevailing importance of ritual and memory are incorporated into our everyday lived experience.



Like It Was In the Beginning It Will Be At the End 

Project Description

Important preface (please read): This work deals with grief and references death often (sometimes metaphorical, sometimes literal), this work deals with intergenerational trauma and mental illness, there is mention of alcohol, dissociation, depression, grief. Please do what is needed to take care of yourself as you engage with this work, whether it is pausing or the act of no longer interacting with the work.

"Like It Was in The Beginning It Will Be At The End" is a reference to a phrase both my grandmother and mother say at the end of their prayers, it is said with good faith that when circumstances become difficult that there will be new beginnings and so much more to come.

My work feels, it smells, it shakes, it falls, it tumbles, it runs, it stands still, it screams, it hides, it crawls, it breathes, it breathes, it breathes, it dies, and breathes, it lives, it lives forever, and it lives before, it bends, it flies, it splits, it teleports, it mourns and is born. Over and over again. The medium is heart, bones, flesh, voice, blood, memory. Memory. It is inspired by the challenging of guilt and shame, to witness, witness, when it is beautiful and reluctantly witness when it’s not (and the striving to witness alone). Inspired by death and becoming the process that never seems to end. A process that is deemed ugly, a process that confuses, a process that blurs boundaries. To recount what happened, what did not, what has yet to. Memory. To archive the gross, the grit, the snot and swollen eyes, the hyperventilated exhales. The capturing of survival and cultivation of life once again. To archive the smell of wet dirt, the feeling of the wind gliding through the empty space of our fingers. My work is for me but also for my elders, the babies in my life, my ancestors, those who have supported me and seen my whole person. This work came from processing a grief, the grief of not becoming a big sister, the grief of not having a sibling in my life, the grief of not knowing where to put one's love. But grief is such a multifaceted experience, where there is also laughter in between the cries, reminding us that we are still continuing.