That Shape is My Shade

Originally from Canada, Melanie Daniel immigrated to Israel, and has been working in the United States for the past three years. Her work often explores humankind’s relationship with the natural world, imagining a chaotic environment punctuated by bold and psychedelic colors and patterns. She is currently the Stuart B. and Barbara Padnos Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Chair for the Visual and Media Arts Department at Grand Valley State University.

For That Shape is my Shade, she has coordinated a collaborative exhibition with a group of artists representing faculty, staff and students at the university. This exhibition serves as one of Daniel’s culminating projects of her residency, and explores each artist’s process of creating, sharing and stepping away from their work.


Opening Reception

Thursday, January 16th, 2020 from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Please join us for the opening reception of That Shape is My Shade from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, January 16th. 

Art Gallery exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public. For additional program offerings or for more information on these events please visit If you have questions, need assistance or accommodations, or to schedule a group visit, please call us at (616) 331-2563 or email at [email protected].



florescent pink tropical apocalyptic painting surrounded by soft scultures

Work currently on display in exhibition by artist, Melanie Daniel

oil painting of people walking around farm framed by plane wreakage

Randal Domer, Your Invisible Emergency, 2020, oil on canvas

black and white photograph of man's silhouette walking away from viewer in cobblestone alley

Sean Larson, Untitled, 2019, MDF, concrete and paint

black and white photograph of three cats sitting in front of doorway in cobblestone alley

Castina Bombardo, Simulation (detail), 2020, acrylic, copper, resin, MDF, paper, patina, pigment, steel and styrene


Want to know more about Melanie Daniel, The Padnos Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, or the GVSU Visual and Media Arts program? Check out these resources:

installation of woven squares of cardboard painted pink

Lin Foust, Armor, 2019, cardboard, latex paint, fishing line, thermal adhesive, MP3 (1:51)

That Shape is My Shade: A Conversation with Melanie Daniel


  • Why was this group of artists brought together?

To mark my final year as the Padnos Chair I invited these particular artists to join me in creating new works because we share a common approach to artmaking. In conversations and studio visits, it was clear to me that we all may start with a specific plan but acknowledge that any artwork has a will or life of its own as it is being made. The artist must answer to that and not merely execute a set of instructions.

When you have a group of artists working together, even if they’re not physically collaborating on shared pieces, a kind of unspoken shared alchemy occurs. We work in our own studios with the same mantra in our minds: That Shape is my Shade. It’s up to everyone to make sense of the lyrics in a way that is unique to us. It’s an opportunity to see how individual artists take a few words and make something from nothing.


  • How did the lyrics by Steeley Dan provide the basis for this exhibition?

“That Shape is my Shade” is a title that Giles Hefferan and I came up with over talks about possible names for a show. We liked this one because it has a melancholy, bluesy feel, with an existential edge. Within this art making context the lyrics make me think of taking shelter under our own makings or identifying with the object, like an extension of ourselves. In a way that's part of what making art is; the initial excitement and realm of potential while creating, followed by the inevitable anticlimax once the thing is made and out in the world. Maybe the object fades and becomes a shadow of itself or immaterial because it is already in the past.


  • One of the goals of the Padnos Distinguished Artist-in-Residence is to “enhance the experiences of art students.” How does this exhibition enhance the experience of the participating artists?

Concerning the professional artists in the show, this process is already second nature. But for the students, I was happy to observe their ability to be flexible in their minds, think quickly and act in favor of the artwork. Art school is peculiar place where you have peers and real, immediate feedback. Once out in the world, this access to real-time candid feedback vanishes. I tell students to make most of it and listen to anyone's opinion, even if they don't like it. This exhibition provides an ideal opportunity for students to experience reactions from a wider array of visitors

The Padnos position is also about providing an alternative, outside voice or perspective to the curriculum and extracurricular projects. I always remind students to never fear being the fool. Be ridiculous. This is the root of risk-taking and making important discoveries. Making art for a public venue such as this group exhibition is an excellent way to test that.


GVSU Art Gallery
1121 Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts
Grand Valley State University
Allendale MI, 49401

M - F 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 
THUR 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

Admission is free and open to the public.


For special accommodation, please call:
(616) 331-2563

For exhibition details and media inquires, please email:
Joel Zwart, Curator of Exhibitions
[email protected]

For learning and engagement opportunities, please email:
[email protected]

Page last modified February 25, 2020