A COVID-19 Memorial

Clothing Sculpture: 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

The COVID-19 memorial will be made from freshly laundered, lovingly folded and stacked second-hand clothing. The clothing will come from 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 in Grand Central Terminal

The memorial can be installed in any high-traffic area in any city. In New York, 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? 

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  |  Spotify

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: ..as 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: http://msb.franklincovey.com/

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.


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

Untitled 3 (Layers, Onesie), 2019
Untitled 3 (Layers, Onesie), 2019

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”

An Evening of Performance – Kaleidospace Collective

Manuela Agudelo

Really happy to be providing space to this dynamic, young group of artists. The final blow-out of my Jackson Heights pop-up studio will feature music, performance, dance, theatre.. come raise a glass?

September Pop-up Art Studio, Open to the Public

Clothing Rubbing: Group Blocks: Study in wax crayon, 2019
To Live is to Leave Traces takes place in a storefront art studio, open to the public, in the heart of Jackson Heights. Below is the proposal I submitted to The Queens Council of The Arts to receive the grant: During the month of September, the artist will: 

– Create a dozen new works, extending his practice.

– Actively engage with local organizations (eg. The 82nd Street BID, The Renaissance School).

– Encourage passers-by to come in and provide feedback.

– Invite guest artists to work alongside him.

– Host weekly events in the evening. 

– Strive to be collaborative and inclusive.

He hopes that this project will strengthen the creative fabric of his community. At the end of the pop-up, the resulting work will be exhibited at Espresso 77, a local cafe. 


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

Night Sky, 2016 – Photographic Print Installed

Clothing Sculpture Photo: Night Sky, 2016 with Italian Collector Giorgia Lera.
Night Sky, 2016 with Italian Collector Giorgia Lera.
Night Sky, 2016 with Italian Collector Giorgia Lera.

It was such a pleasure this past year to work with the new Italian collector Giorgia Lera. This is the first photo I’ve had printed and mounted on Dibond Panel. As you can see, we went big! It sits in Giorgia’s office, right by her desk. She is an aerospace engineer so we are in very good company. Thank you Giorgia!

New Drawings for 2019

Clothing Sculpture: Clamp Study, 2017-19
Clothing Assemblages

Clothing assemblages wrapped on panels (OK, maybe there is a wig in the first one!).

Empty Gestures, 2019
Empty Gestures, 2019

Ideas for outdoor sculptures that explore the idea of marking, directing, instructing… but lacking meaning.

All works graphite on Arches watercolor block paper, 9″ x 12″.

Print Love!

GQ, Russia, No. 7, 2010-11

I was so busy with shows when some of these came out, I never managed to share them. Thank you GQ, Complex, Brutus and Textiel Plus for the exposure! It was a pleasure to work with you.

GQ, Russia, No. 7, 2010-11
GQ, Russia, No. 7, 2010-11
Complex Magazine, May, 2011
Complex Magazine, May, 2011
Brutus Magazine, June, 2006
Brutus Magazine, June, 2006
Textiel Plus, Summer, 2015
Textiel Plus, Summer, 2015

Eileen Fisher Comissions: Brooklyn, Seattle & Detroit

Clothing Sculpture: All is actually each (detail), 2018 (after Aldous Huxley) 7’ x 28” x 28”

I just finished installing the last of 3 sculptures created for Eileen Fisher this summer. Though I worked out of their “Tiny Factory” in Irvington NY, my studio was huge. And with The Hudson River outside my door, it felt like an artist residency with all the clothing I could ever need. (more about that here). Over the course of 6 weeks, I used approximately 3,600 pounds of clothing. I tried to keep track of the number of garments I used, but alas, that did not happen!

Here is a bit about the process. In my early design discussions with the Eileen Fisher creative team, I made the above”playing card” sketches to facilitate design exploration. These were all about 2.5″ x 3.5″.

Those evolved into the schematics below that I created on my computer.

Schematics for Eileen Fisher Detroit & Seattle Stores.
Schematics for Eileen Fisher Detroit & Seattle Stores.

Once we nailed that down, I got down to sorting and folding. Here is where we landed for the Seattle store:

All is actually each, 2018 (after Aldous Huxley) 7’ x 28” x 28”

All is actually each (detail), 2018 (after Aldous Huxley) 7’ x 28” x 28”
All is actually each (detail), 2018
(after Aldous Huxley)
7’ x 28” x 28”

More about this piece under Works

And here is the piece for Detroit:

Separating being from becoming, 2018 (after Aldous Huxley) 7’ x 28” x 28”

More about this piece under Works

Maybe you are wondering about the piece I created for Brooklyn? Well, I need to get back there to do a proper photoshoot! I’m really excited to share that with you, as well as the amazing mini-doc that was created! In the meantime here is a schematic for the design.

Sketch done in Adobe Illustrator for the Eileen Fisher Brooklyn Store. Schematic for the Eileen Fisher Brooklyn Store.

Hard at work!Installing at Eileen Fisher, Bergan St. Installing at Eileen Fisher, Bergan St.

Derick and his steamer. Derick and his steamer.