The Witness, 2021

The Witness, Photo Illustration for Diversity Plaza, Queens, NY
The Witness, Photo Illustration for Diversity Plaza, Queens, NY
Photo illustration showing The Witness installed at Diversity Plaza, in Jackson Heights.

I’m excited to kick off a new project sponsored by the Queens Council on the Arts! 

This fall, I’ll install a modular, portable sculpture that will be on view for three days, in three public plazas throughout Queens. This will be my first time working outdoors in NYC.

I’ve designed an innovative armature for the work that will make installation fast and easy. The sculpture is comprised of eight individual units, made from second-hand clothing and wood, allowing for multiple configurations.  Several times a day, I’ll work with an assistant to change the arrangement, adding a performative element to the project. 

I hope to engage with people from all walks of life and in particular, reach those who are underexposed to contemporary art. Perhaps commuters and passersby will see the work and become curious. Those who provide feedback may feel like they have influenced the work (and perhaps they will). I hope this approach will instill a sense of connection to the project and by extension, a sense of connection to Queens.

You can learn about a related project here 

The Witness, Clothing Sculpture, 2021, Schematic Drawing
Schematic Drawing of The Witness (default configuration)

This project is made possible in part by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Piled High – Selvedge Magazine

Selvedge Magazine Interview

It was an honor to be featured in the 93rd issue of Selvedge Magazine with a thoughtful essay written by Laura Gray.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Wherever they are found, these sculpture have a monumentality that is two-fold (excuse the pun), because while they tower above the viewer, the garments hold memories. In selecting second-hand clothing as his material for making art, Melander has made a critical decision about how this chosen material conveys the connection of memory to feeling.”

March / April – 2020 You can buy it here

Empty Gestures, 2018

I always feel a twinkle of joy when I see a blank sign or a marker that has lost its meaning. These objects draw our attention, but have nothing to say (like some people I know). 

I also like the way they hold space in a practical, functional way, but without reason. So we can just appreciate them as forms. 

This sketch is for a series of sculptures. Now I just need a month of Sundays to make them all. 

Alter & Circulate, TAG Projects

TAG Projects, Portraits by Morgan-Owens

From 2002-2007, I was in an arts collective called Tag Projects. We built community, self-produced five exhibitions, sold work, and even got a rave review from Holland Cotter in The New York Times!

These photos are from the last show we did called “Alter & Circulate.”

TAG Projects, Portraits by Morgan-Owens
Polaroids by Morgan-Owens, (Thanks Jessie!) with portraits of William (Patrick) Armstrong, Sara Julig, Tim Kent and a group shot also including the artists Charnan Lewis, Jessie Morgan-Owens, Magdalen Pierakos, Monika Zarenka and myself.

This was the concept: Eight artists create eight collaborative works on paper over the course of one afternoon.  At the end of the day they exhibit the work. At the end of the exhibit they destroy the work. Artists spend the first hour setting up, chatting and drinking coffee. They spend the next 4 hours working, rotating from one panel to the next, every 20 minutes. At the end of the day, they are back to the panel they started with and everyone has worked on each panel. Then they eat pizza and dance.

To my surprise, no one wanted to destroy the work and we ended up selling several of them. They were full of good energy (and still wet). Thank you Sacha Jones and DBA for hooking us up with the space!

Alter & Circulate, TAG Projects, Before Photo
Alter & Circulate, TAG Projects, After Photo

“A Shirts” – Garment Design

Clothing Sculpture - A Shirts

What a fun day that was! In 10/19 I did a little 1-day show at Pip-Squeak Chapeau for The Callicoon Artwalk. It seems like 100 years ago.. I have trouble in even accessing how carefree that day was. The owner of the store insisted on a fashion shoot, which was a lot of fun. I’m wearing my own creation called “A Shirts” made by daisy-chaining 4 dress shirts together at the plackets. 

Clothing Sculpture - A Shirts

Approximate Size: 
4′ x 3′ (H x W)

Four mass-produced button-down shirts. 

Later in the year, I laid the garment on a table, covered it with drafting film and did a rubbing of it. More on that here. An image of that work is below:

Clothing Rubbing, Blue Shirts Daisy-chained
Clothing Rubbing, Blue Shirts Daisy-chained

This work relates to a piece I did called Universal Set in 2008, that I photographed on the rooftop of my east village art studio, seen below. That work morphed into a commission I did for TOMS Shoes. 

Shoe Sculpture: Universal Set, (low)
Shoe Sculpture: Universal Set, (low)

Folding Screen – Deconstructed Shirt Cuff

Clothing Sculpture - Plan for Folding Screen

You likely do not know this, but in addition to being a sculptor, I am a lover of industrial design. I have many sketches for functional objects, especially designs for furniture. Today, on this solstice, I am giving myself permission to share them with you, alongside my artworks. 

Kicking it off is a design for a full-size folding screen. It takes its form from a deconstructed shirt cuff. I like the way a folding screen provides coverage while getting dressed, while clothing provides coverage after you have gotten dressed. 

Above are some color and pattern experiments, from subtle and classic to big and bold. 

9″ x 12″ (H x W)

140 lb. watercolor block paper, wax pencil and guache

A COVID-19 Memorial Proposal

Covid-19 Memorial Design

The COVID-19 Pandemic is tragic on so many levels. When I learned that those infected and hospitalized were being separated from their loved ones, potentially dying among strangers, I felt a profound sense of grief. And as the pandemic progresses, seeing how it has disproportionally affected communities of color and the immigrant populations of New York City has shed new light on inequality and systemic racism.  

In response to the pandemic, I’m working to create a COVID-19 memorial that is compassionate, inclusive & participatory. The memorial will offer a place for healing and introspection, to process our personal and collective loss, to honor and release those who have died. View the project website


Covid-19 Memorial Design, Side View
Covid-19 Memorial Design, Corner View
Covid-19 Memorial Design, Inside View
Covid-19 Memorial Design, View from Above

The COVID-19 memorial will be made from freshly laundered, lovingly folded and stacked second-hand clothing. The clothing will come from from the local community, including the clothing of COVID-19 victims, donated by their families and loved ones. The memorial will take the form of a giant spiral. Participants can walk around the memorial or enter inside for an immersive experience. The outer part of the spiral will extend into the room, like an open arm, beckoning to the viewer. The memorial will be colorful, with all of the clothing sorted from dark to light. The dimensions will be approximately 10’ (H) x 30’ (W) x 30’ (D). 


Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal

The memorial can be installed in any high-traffic area in any city. In New York City, my home town, the perfect location would be the east side of Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal (GCT). This iconic setting was selected because GCT is at the heart of New York’s transit system. Thousands of people from all walks of life pass through GCT every day. Installing the work in Vanderbilt Hall will enable maximum participation. 


The memorial will be built on site, allowing the public to observe the fabrication process. Stations for folding and stacking will be set up to the side. People can sign up for a folding lesson and and contribute to the development of the memorial. 

Do you know someone who died from COVID-19? 

Or do you know someone who does? Would you, or the person you know, consider donating the clothing of their loved ones to this project? Often when someone passes, we are faced with the question of what to do with their things. Contributing some or all of the clothing to The COVID-19 Memorial, will honor your loved one and help create a space for healing.

If you are interested, let me know and we can schedule a pickup.

Potential Partners

This is the most ambitious project I have ever undertaken. It will require many hands and many hours. I will be building a team, but first, I will need to secure a venue. Next week I will reach out to Grand Central. After that, I will explore funding opportunities with the following organizations: Creative Capital, National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Sculpture Center, No Longer Empty, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Public Art Fund, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Art Production Fund, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Fractured Atlas, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Doris Duke Charitable FoundationFord Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The New York Community Trust.

Derick Melander, New York City, August 5th, 2020

Podcast Interview

Float, 2003

The Listen Podcast

I’m excited to share my interview with Kate Jetmore of The Listen Podcast. We talk about getting unstuck, staying motivated and, well, something paranormal happens… 
Apple Podcasts  |  SoundCloud

The Listen Podcast is all about the power of letting others tell their story: in their own words, at their own pace, highlighting what is most important to them. In the full hour we spent together, I decided to focus on the origin story of my work with second-hand clothing, growing up sensitive and artistic, strategies to stay engaged in the art business and my overall work philosophy. 

Kate Jetmore Photo
Kate Jetmore
Float, 2003
Float, 2003

And if that is not enough, a family ghost story plays a part as well. Here is an excerpt: my great-grandfather sat by the lake in the moonlight, he saw two figures float across the water.  One was the form of his deceased wife and the other was a stranger..

For your convenience, here are Derick’s Rules of Art. Now this is not as exhaustive as Jerry Saltz‘s list, but you don’t have to read a book:

  1. Never turn down work, it will lead to something. 
  2. Complaining does not usually motivate people to help you. Offering solutions and generating excitement around them, does.
  3. Never release anything to the world that you aren’t at least fascinated by. It does not have to be perfect, 99% of the world will never know the difference.
  4. Sharing the work keeps the work alive and growing.
  5. If you are not enthusiastic about your work, don’t expect anyone else to be. 
  6. Don’t compete with other artists. We are stronger together.
  7. Deadlines are magic. Commit to an achievable time frame. When you succeed, it will push you and the work forward.  
  8. Sometimes you have to say no to social obligations (eg. friend’s kid’s 4 year old bday party) and make art instead. You have to be a bit selfish. 
  9. Build a mission statement. I did this many years ago and it continues to be helpful. Here is a great tool:

We also discuss my latest project, a memorial for those who have died from COVID-19. 

Visiting Artist Lecture at Fashion Institute of Technology

Clothing Folding Demo

March 11th, 5:00-6:30 PM
Katie Murphy Amphitheater, 
The Pomerantz Center,
227 W 27th St, NY, NY 10001

Night Sky - Portrait

Night Sky – Portrait

I’m excited to be kicking off two projects with FIT this spring! I’ll be presenting a visiting artist lecture and working as an artist in residence.

I hope you can come to the lecture on March 11th from 5:00-6:30 PM. I’ll tell you how I came to focus on second-hand clothing, I’ll review key projects and I’ll share some entertaining case studies.


A week-long artist in residence project (AIR@FIT) will kick off on April 13th. I’ll be collaborating with students and faculty to create a context-aware, experimental new work. I’ll be in The Studio (D223), a glass box that juts out over the lobby of the Pomerantz Center at Seventh Avenue at 27th Street. 

Please follow along on Instagram if you would like to see things unfold or come by and observe from the lobby below.

New Collector Spotlight

Last month I delivered 3 drawings to Gregory Patterson (two of which are below). In case you don’t know, he’s a celebrity hairstylist and overall beauty expert. You might have caught him on Project Runway years back or seen his recent work for Sally Beauty.

“The pieces instantly struck me, I saw myself, and my life’s journey in them. I saw my childhood, my college years, and the man I have become today”

Gregory Patterson

These works were produced during my pop-up open studio in Queens this past fall, made possible with a grant from The Queens Council on the Arts.
A few are still available, please let me know if you are interested.

Press Round-Up (English), 2019

03/20/19 RTHK Radio (live radio interview), James Ross, “Derick Melander – Central & Western District Festival”
03/21/19 Hive Life (feature), Christy C, “Fashioning Art from Old Clothes”
03/22/19 Home Journal (feature), Cherry Lai, “New York Artist Derick Melander Turns Old Clothing Into Stunning Towers of Art”
03/27/19  Hong Kong Heartbeat (Art Basel survey), Keilem Ng, “Eco Art Basel”

Press Round-Up (Chinese), 2019

03/20/19 Fine Door (feature), Lin Guocai, “當藝術家在堆疊這些布料時,喚醒公眾對於廢棄紡織品及世界事物「可持續性」的反省”
03/27/19 ULifestyle, (feature) Deng Dazhi, “太古星街藝展民生”
04/08/19 Position News (feature), Zeng Jiahui, “觀中環街頭的回收衣物藝術品 知否知否香港現時氣氛如何”
03/18/19 Near Snake (feature), Editorial Desk, “星街小區:”You Are My Other Me” 大型環保藝術裝置”

Pop-up Art Studio, Week Four – Jackson Heights, Queens

Clothing Sculpture – Installation Shot for Pop-up Studio

One day, Manuela Agudelo walked into the storefront and said something like: “Wow, I have always wanted a place like this in my neighborhood. I sometimes organize performance nights”. I said “You want to do one here in 2 weeks?” I was so impressed by how she rallied her friends and pulled together an amazing event. That was the birth of Kaleidospace and I am honored to have been part of it. More about what they are up to on Facebook.   

Kaleidospace Face Painting

Kaleidospace! The final blow-out started early for families and face painting. Music, performance, dance, and theater went well into the night. 


Here are some sample works created during the open studio. You can find more details here.

Clothing Sculpture – Installation Shot for Pop-up Studio
Clothing Sculpture: Study for "Rainbow Cloud"

Open Studio: 35-59 82nd St., Jackson Heights, NY 11372

Exhibition: Espresso 77, 35-57 77th St, Jackson Heights, NY 11372

Dates and Times

Open Studio: September 4th-September 30, M-F 8am-6pm

Exhibition: October 23rd-November 26th 

Exhibition Reception: October 25th, 5-8