Melissa Oresky’s art practice is rooted in painting and collage, and her primary production is mixed media works on canvas and paper. Oresky is interested in landscape, and considers it as a concept that bridges painting, lived experience, environmental consciousness, and imagination. Working fluidly between abstraction and representation, past work has focused on aspects of or locations within landscape, including glaciers, deserts, formal gardens, mineral structures, the colors of daylight, and the kinesthetic experience of viewing the ground or the sky while moving. Her current work is focused broadly on plants. While looking at plants as direct subject matter for artworks, she also enacts what could be considered a plantlike process in the studio by “growing” paintings or collages through iterative processes over long periods of time. Her studio activities follow other aspects of plant being such as reflecting, filtering, and absorbing light to produce color and creating and reacting to material, atmospheric, and spatial conditions. Oresky often takes over a year to complete a piece, while working on many ongoing pieces in the studio at once. She wants her work to convey the aliveness of plants, which humans tend to regard as objects rather than fully living organisms.

Oresky has shown her work in painting, collage, and video nationally and internationally, with recent shows at Boundary Space, Chicago; Tripod Space Project, Busan, South Korea; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, IL; Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN; and K. Imperial Fine Art, San Francisco. She also co-organized and participated in the project Collage Office, an experimental, charitable platform for artists to make work for visitors by appointment at The Franklin, Chicago.

Oresky holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has attended residencies including Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine and The Santa Fe Art Institute, New Mexico. Originally from Maryland, she lives and works in Normal, Illinois where she is a Professor of Painting and Drawing at Illinois State University.



2000    The University of Illinois at Chicago, MFA, Chicago, IL    

1996    The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, BFA, Chicago, IL

1995    Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel

SELECTED SOLO and TWO PERSON EXHIBITIONS                                                                              

2022    Boundary, Of Leaves as Tongues, Chicago, IL

2021    Open Space Art, Chromophyll, with Gina Hunt, Ottawa, IL

2020    McLean County Arts Center, Growing Time, Bloomington, IL
2018    Tripod Project Space, Busan, South Korea

2017    DEMO Project, Succulent Succulent, Springfield, IL

            K. Imperial Fine Art, Cultivar, San Francisco, CA 

2016    Minnesota State University, Foliage, Mankato, MN

2013    Heavy Brow Gallery, Solar Anvil, Bloomington, IL

2012    Hyde Park Art Center, Trail, Chicago, IL (catalogue)

2011    Elmhurst Art Museum, Tangled Grounds, Elmhurst, IL 

2009    Western Exhibitions, A Wildness of Edges, Chicago, IL

            Proof Gallery, Streaking, Boston, MA, with Carrie Gundersdorf

2008    VONZWECK, Germinator, Chicago, IL
2007    Ada Gallery, Richmond, VA

            Western Exhibitions, Brittle Flow, Chicago, IL,

2006    Van Harrison Gallery, Groundcover, Shapeshifter, New York, NY

            Western Exhibitions, Observatory, Chicago, IL

2005    Van Harrison Gallery, In the Shallows, Chicago, IL

2004    Riverside Art Center, Hive Minds and Other Drawings, Riverside, IL

2002    Standard Gallery, Extra Terrestrial, Chicago, IL   

2001    Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago,12x12: New Artists, New Work, Chicago, IL


2022    Field Projects, Zoonotic Hex, New York, NY

2021    Terrain Biennial, Fern Fever, Springfield, IL

            Illinois State Museum, Reports of a Living World, Springfield, IL

2020    Catherine Edelman Gallery, Photography & ___, Chicago, IL, collaboration with Jin Lee
            Tufts University Art Gallery, Public Intimacies, Medford, MA, exhibited with COVIDtv

            Terrain Exhibitions and CNL Projects, Art-In-Place, artworks presented in satellite locations and visible to the public

            COVIDtv, Sensiphilia: Small Material Events to Ease Anxiety, live broadcasts organized by The Franklin, Chicago, IL
            Contemporary Art Center of Peoria, Negotiating Space, Peoria, IL
2019    Elmhurst Art Museum, With a Capital P: Selections by Six Painters, Elmhurst, IL, selected by Leslie Baum
            Art on Paper, with K. Imperial Fine Art, New York, NY

            Guenzel Gallery, Peninsula School of Art, The Future of Collage, Fish Creek, WI
2018    K. Imperial Fine Art, Summer in the City, San Francisco, CA
2017    The Painting Center, Unearth, New York, NY, curated by Shona Macdonald

            University Galleries, Illinois State University, Subdivision, Normal, IL, project by Jeff Robinson and Allison Lacher

2016    Roman Susan, No Diving, Chicago, IL, project by Jeff Robinson and Allison Lacher

            Comfort Station Logan Square, The Wheelhouse 2, Chicago, IL, screening organized by Leslie Baum and Frederick Wells

2015    Minotaur Projects, Duck Show LA, Los Angeles, CA, organized by Ryan Travis Christian

2013    SCA Contemporary Art, System Preferences, Albuquerque, NM, curated by Shona Macdonald

            65GRAND, Thru Lines, Chicago, IL
            Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Angular Seduction, Brooklyn, NY, curated by Vincent Como
            Tiger Strikes Asteroid, The Flat Files Year One, Brooklyn, NY

            Devening Projects, The Wheelhouse, Chicago, IL, screening organized by Leslie Baum and Frederick Wells

2012    POVevolving, Where My Cones At, Los Angeles, CA, organized by Ryan Travis Christian

            65GRAND, New Formalisms 2, Chicago, IL, curated by Abraham Ritchie
            Northeastern Illinois University, Living By Example: work from the collection of Edra Soto and Dan Sullivan, Chicago, IL

2011    Performa 2011, A Philip Von Zweck Project via Invisible Exports, New York, NY
            NADA Hudson, A Philip Von Zweck Project via Invisible Exports, Hudson, NY
            Fecal Face Dot Gallery, West, Wester, Westest, San Francisco, CA, curated by Ryan Travis Christian

            Elmhurst Art Museum, New Acquisitions, Elmhurst, IL

2010    OQBO Gallery, Where There Is, Berlin, Germany, curated by Dan Devening

            The Engine Room, Massey University, Cut Paste, Wellington, NZ, curated by Shona Macdonald

            Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Informal Relations, Indianapolis, IN, curated by Scott Grow

            SOFA Gallery, Indiana University, Playing Fields, Bloomington, IN, curated by Tyson Skross

            Soloway, Parts and Labor, Brooklyn, NY

2009    Gahlberg Gallery, College of DuPage, On Paper, Glen Ellyn, IL (catalogue)
            Western Exhibitions, Of or Relating to the Sky or Visible Heavens, Chicago, IL, curated by Carrie Gundersdorf

            Eastern Michigan University, Contemporary Painting, Ypsilanti, MI, curated by Chris Hyndman

2008    The Barn, VONZWECK at The Barn, Chicago, IL

            Devening Projects and Editions, Paper Love, Chicago, IL

2007    Lemberg Gallery, Thinking in Color, Ferndale, MI, curated by Judy Ledgerwood
            Western Exhibitions, Printed Space, Chicago, IL

2006    Northern Illinois University Gallery, Strange Fictions, Chicago, IL, curated by Chris Kahler (catalogue)

            Skestos-Gabriele, Paper, Chicago, IL

            The Affair at the Jupiter Hotel, with Western Exhibitions, Portland, OR

2005    Mixture Contemporary, Into the Midst, Houston, TX, curated by Scott Wolniak

            Peeler Gallery, DePauw University, Depauw Biennial: Contemporary Art in the Midwest, Greencastle, IN

2004    Wendy Cooper Gallery, Mental Space, Madison, WI, curated by JJ Murphy

            NADA Fair, with Van Harrison Gallery, Miami, FL

            Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, Lucky Thirteen, Mt. Vernon, IL, curated by Harold Gregor

2003    Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Hysterical Pastoral, Chicago, IL, curated by John Neff 

            Gallery 312, Really Real, Chicago, IL

2002    Joymore, Realm of the Lair, Chicago, IL, curated by Ben Stone and Siebren Versteeg

            The Stray Show, with Destroyer, Inc., Chicago, IL

2001    Thomas McCormick Gallery, Serendipity, Chicago, IL, curated by Anna Kunz and Leslie Baum

            Hyde Park Art Center, Compound Fracture, Chicago, IL, curated by E.C. Brown

2000    The International Museum of Surgical Science, Organic Produce, Chicago, IL

1998    Dogmatic Gallery, Burned, Fried, and Set Aside: The Meat Show, Chicago, IL, curated by Paul Chan (catalogue)


2020    Illinois State University Outstanding Creative Activity Award
2016    The Thicket Artists Residency, Darien, GA 

2013    National Park Service Artist-in-Residence, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ

2013    Illinois State University Outstanding College Researcher Award, College of Fine Arts 

2011    Harold Arts Residency, Chesterhill, OH

2010    Santa Fe Art Institute, Residency and Fellowship, Santa Fe, NM 

2008    Schloss Plüschow, Residency and Fellowship, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany

            Santa Fe Art Institute, Residency and Fellowship, Santa Fe, NM

2007    Illinois State University Outstanding College Researcher Award, College of Fine Arts

2006    Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Artist’s Residency and Fellowship

2005    Illinois Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship

2000    Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Residency and Fellowship, Skowhegan, ME

1999    Union League Civic and Arts Association Fellowship (now Luminarts)


2020    “Composting in the Herbarium,” coauthored with Keith Pluymers, Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture #52

            Finder, screenprinted artist’s book, edition of 180, published by Kayrock Screenprinting, Brooklyn, NY

            Fern Portal, five-color silkscreen, edition of 180, published by Kayrock Screenprinting, Brooklyn NY

2017    Foliate, three-color lithograph, edition of 15 arabic numeral impressions and 15 roman numeral impressions, published by NEW, Normal, IL

2016    Ghosts, artist’s book, three color silkscreen, edition of 200, published by Kayrock Screenprinting, Brooklyn, NY

2015    Solar Anvil / And the Rhythm Ace, ten video suite, edition of 300 CD/DVD sets and silkscreened packaging/poster, with Zak Boerger

2012    Forest Noise, variable edition screenprint, edition of 15, published by Kayrock Screenprinting

2008    Mineral Fabric, screenprinted artist’s book, edition of 200, published by Kayrock Screenprinting

2007    Exchange, book project by Philip von Zweck


2019    The Franklin, Collage Office, Chicago, IL; Co-organized with Alice J. Lee

2017    DEMO Project, Weight of Light, work by Paola Cabal, Vincent Como, Angelina Gualdoni & Gina Hunt, Springfield, IL; Curator

2013    The Franklin, Collage on Demand, Chicago IL; Performance to benefit the Letha Rodman Melchior Cancer Fund

2003    University Galleries, Illinois State University,These Days: Drawings by Marty Ackley, John Parot & Geoffrey Todd Smith, Normal, IL; Curator

1999    Dogmatic Gallery, Cathouse, Chicago, IL; Co-curated with Kirsten Stoltmann


2020    “ART-IN-PLACE: A Project to Connect, Inspire and Bring Hope While We Are Disconnected”; Chicago Gallery News, May 24
            Kennedy, Laura, “Datebook: Artist Creates In Sync With Plants”; Radio interview, WGLT, January 11                                                                                             
2019    New American Paintings, vol. #143

2017    Faingold, Scott, “Keeping it Light”; Illinois Times, March 16

            Kunze, Maggie, “Weight of Light and Succulent Succulent at DEMO Project”;

2013    Germanos, Paul, “Chicago Art in Pictures: Best of 2012”; Bad at Sports

            Shepherd, Lydia, “Collaging for A Cause”; Sixty Inches from Center

2012    Harty, Kim, “Trailing Through the Psychedelic”; F newsmagazine, August 11

            Isé, Claudine, “Still, yet, else, further, again: Be patient, and the art will come”; Chicago Tribune, May 30

            Sampson, Lauren, “Review: Melissa Oresky/Hyde Park Art Center”; Newcity, May 15

2012    Paitz, Kendra, “And Soon the Tree Which Moves the Branch”; Trail catalogue essayHyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL

            Miller, Chris, “Review: New Formalisms 2/65 Grand”; Newcity, January 31

            Linneweh, David, “Studio Break”; Podcast interview

2011    Sarrita Hunn, “Ruptures at Hoffman Lachance contemporary”; Temporary Art Review, May

2010    Lowrance, Christopher, “Interview with Melissa Oresky”; MW Capacity

2009    Ruiz, Steve, “Melissa Oresky@Western Exhibitions”; Chicago Art Review

            Waxman, Lori; On Paper catalogue essay, Gahlberg Gallery, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL

2008    “Santa Fe Radio Café”; Radio interview, KSFR, November 20

            New American Paintings, Vol. #77

2006    Artner, Alan, “Visions of the future in gallery's farewell show”; Chicago Tribune, April 21 

            New American Paintings, Vol. #59

2005    Hannum, Terrence, “In The Shallows: Melissa Oresky @ Van Harrison Gallery”; Panel House, January

2003    “Realm of the Lair”; Bridge Magazine, October

2002    Speh, Scott, “Realm of the Lair”; Bridge Magazine, November

2002    Vandeventer, Kristen, “Chicago”; Contemporary, June/July/August

2002    New American Paintings, Vol. #35

2001    Molon, Dominic, “Before and After Science”; Exhibition essay for 12 x12, New Artists, New Work: Melissa Oresky, MCA Chicago, Chicago, IL


2002—    Professor of Painting and Drawing, Wonsook Kim School of Art, Illinois State University

2017—    Visiting Faculty, Peninsula School of Art, Fish Creek, WI 

2016        Visiting Faculty, Oxbow School of Art, Saugatuck, MI

2002        Adjunct Faculty, The University of Illinois at Chicago

2001        Instructor, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago



2021    “Composting in the Herbarium: Melissa Oresky and Keith Pluymers in conversation with Giovanni Aloi”; Botanical Speculations, online

2017    Shanghai Normal University Tianhua College, Shanghai, China

2016    Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN

2011    University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

            Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL

2009    University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

            College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL

2008    DePaul University, Chicago, IL

            Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, IL

2007    Lemberg Gallery, “Thinking in Color”; Exhibition panel discussion, Ferndale, MI, curated by Judy Ledgerwood

2005    Gallery 400, University of Illinois at Chicago, “Interested Painting”; Exhibition panel discussion, Chicago, IL, moderated by Elijah Burgher

2003    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL


    Museum of Modern Art Library

    Illinois State Museum

    Elmhurst Art Museum

    University Galleries, Illinois State University

    U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service

    University of Georgia Herbarium

    Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection