Melanie Yugo is an educator, organizer and artist. Her practice explores and activates social and cultural life in the public sphere. She works with both institutions and independent platforms, through education, events, partnerships and research, within the framework of social practice. Inspired by a background in the social sciences and her Filipino ancestry, she places a particular emphasis on engaging underrepresented, diverse and youth communities.
As an artist-organizer, Melanie co-founded and co-directs Possible Worlds, an art gallery, record shop, project space and publisher in Ottawa’s Chinatown. She also co-founded and directs the collective/studio Spins & Needles with her partner and music producer Jason Pelletier, carrying out arts- and music-based programming in alternative and accessible spaces. As an emerging print artist, her silkscreened prints and artist books investigate histories and futures, both personal and social, and invisible experiences of everyday life.
Melanie’s work has been presented and supported through commissions, exhibitions, grants and residencies in Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Europe and the Philippines. Past clients and collaborators include the National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Museum of History, Canadian Museum of Nature, National Capital Commission, Ottawa Art Gallery, Galerie SAW Gallery, University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Algonquin College, Ottawa-Carleton Immigrant Services Organization, Kitigan Zibi School, Being Ottawa, McGill University, Montreal Fringe Festival, Pop Montreal and Shopify.
Melanie has also built a career in policy research and partnerships, covering areas such as art, culture, the social determinants of health, and human rights. She has worked at municipal, provincial/territorial, federal and international levels, including at the Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Council for the Arts, the Canadian Institute for Health Information and McGill University. For several years she was the lead coordinator for the Canadian Public Arts Funders network, convening and collaborating with government funders, private foundations, creative agencies, researchers, artists and thought leaders from around the world with the view to advancing the arts sector for the enjoyment of all Canadians. She also spearheaded the development and implementation of two youth-focused initiatives in Canada: the Salzburg Global Seminar Young Cultural Innovators Forum and the Emerging Indigenous Arts Administrators Program.
Melanie received a B.Sc. in Psychology from McGill University in Montreal, an M.Sc. in Social and Cultural Psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and completed summer studies in silkscreening at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Melanie was born in Toronto, Canada and is now based in Ottawa.