Melanie Yugo is an educator, organizer and social practice artist. She activates interventions, installations and learning spaces, and designs printed matter, exhibitions and experiences. Melanie is committed to empowering citizens, particularly those who are underrpresented, with the tools and knowledge to access, participate in and shape cultural life. Her work focuses on alternative models of programming and engagement, the reconstruction of narratives related to identity and place, and collective methods to explore plausible futures. She operates within institutions and independent platforms, bridging policy, research and community action.
Melanie is Co-Founder and Director of Possible Worlds, a community-driven, artist-led gallery, shop and project space in Ottawa's Chinatown, along with partner Jason Pelletier. She is also Co-founder and Director of Spins & Needles, an art collective that engages communities and transforms public spaces through participatory art and music experiences. They influenced the National Gallery of Canada to launch a late-night public program, Artsparks, based on Spins & Needles model of programming and co-produced a number of events with the institution.
Melanie has played leading roles in developing research, policy, partnerships, communications and professional development for institutions such as the Canada Council for the Arts, the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canadian Institute for Health Information and McGill University. She managed the activities of the Canadian Public Arts Funders network, including the design of a national program of conferences for Board Chairs, CEOs and program officers from arts councils across Canada, focused on artistic disciplines and strategic policy and research issues. She played a key role in organizing the 2018 Americas Cultural Summit, developing the Summit’s framework, visual identity, program and guiding questions on cultural citizenship. Other career highlights include leading the implementation of the Salzburg Global Seminar Young Cultural Innovators Forum in Canada, launching the Emerging Indigenous Arts Administrators Program, and serving as a youth advisor to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.
As a printmaker, Melanie explores the intersection between printed matter, particularly silkscreening, social practice and speculative design. She is interested in critically addressing and reimagining representations and narratives of the "other" within the public sphere, particularly with culturally diverse, low-income and youth communities.
Melanie has exhibited, presented and taught in Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Europe and the Philippines. She has been an artist-in-residence at 98B Collaboratory in Manila and AS220 in Providence, and is an alumnus of the EU-funded Global Cultural Leadership Program for emerging cultural leaders.
Born in Toronto and now based in Ottawa, Melanie is Filipina-Canadian. She holds a B.Sc. in Psychology from McGill University, an M.Sc. in Social and Cultural Psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science, in addition to completing summer studies at the School of Visual Arts.