Born 1954, South Carolina.
Melvin “Milky” Way is an Outsider Artist whose work occupies the uncharted border between art and science. Born in South Carolina in 1954, Way came to New York City in the 1970s to attend a technical school, earning a certificate to operate a power press. He played bass in local bands, and recorded a solo album with Encounter Records, which folded before the album could be released. Soon after, Way was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and following a string of unsuccessful relationships, became homeless.
By 1989 Way was residing in the shelter run by Hospital Audiences International, a nonprofit organization offering art workshops to people with disabilities. Lower East Side artist Andrew Castrucci, a volunteer workshop leader at the time, encouraged Way to make art, and acted as his advocate during subsequent years. Way soon began to produce small, exquisite ballpoint-pen and ink drawings on found paper. Despite the very straightforward of his chosen genre, Way’s drawings are strikingly complex. Rich hybrids of scrawled text, mathematical equations, astronomical shorthand, chemical formulae, and alchemical punning, each work is marked by the artist’s signature, thrillingly dense sensibility. Way engages both the eye and the mind, drawing viewers into exquisite mysteries that may never be solved.
- Jenifer P. Borum
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
Melvin Way: Recent Work and Drawings from H.A.I., Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
Xerography, Institute 193, Lexington
The Cocaine Files Dossier (1989-2017), Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York
A Vortex Symphony, Galerie Christian Berst, Paris
Gaga City, Christian Berst Gallery, New York
HAI, New York
Six Decades Collecting Self-Taught Art: Revealing a Diverse and Rich Artistic Narrative, curated
by Emelie Gevalt and Valérie Rousseau, American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY
An Alternative Canon: Art Dealers Collecting Outsider Art, curated by Paul Laster, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
In Sickness and In Health (Online), Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York, NY
HEALING ARTS! - work from the archives of Healing Arts Initiative / H.A.I., White Columns, New York, NY
Summer Exhibition: Recent Works, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
Atlanta Biennial: ‘A Thousand Tomorrows’, Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA
Doors of Perception, curated by Javier Téllez in collaboration with the Outsider Art Fair, Frieze New York
Drawn Together Again, The Flag Art Foundation, New York, NY
False Flag, Franklin Street Works, Stamford, CT
"The Museum of Everything," Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Outsider Art-Art Brut, Art Absolument, Paris
Once Something Has Lived It Can Never Really Die, American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY
World Made By Hand, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
Art Brut: A History of Individual Mythologies, Oliva Creative Factory, Sao Joao da Madeira, Portugal
Art Brut live, DOX Center for Contemporary Art, Prague
Self-Taught Genius, American Folk Art Museum, New York
Le Mur, Oeuvres de la Collection Antoine de Galbert, La maison rouge, Paris
The Alternative Guide to the Universe, Hayward Gallery, London
Farfetched: Mad Science, Fringe Architecture and Visionary Engineering, Gregg Museum of Art and Design, Raleigh, North Carolina
Towards a Warm Math, curated by Chris Wiley, On Stellar Rays, New York
Approaching Abstraction, American Folk Art Museum, New York
Communication Breakdown, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York and Galerie Impaire, Paris, France
To Infinity and Beyond: Mathematics in Contemporary Art, Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY
Visual Glossolalia, Luise Ross Gallery, New York
Cryptic Communications, Transformer, Washington, D.C.
a continuation of something else, Bullet Space, New York, NY
Resistance of Memory, Bullet Space, New York, NY
Art's Mouth, curated by Connie Butler, Artists Space, New York
Edward M. Gòmez, "Melvin Way Holds the Keys to the Universe," Hyperallergic.
Jerry Saltz, "Studying the Masterpieces of Visionary Melvin Way," Vulture.
Alanna Martinez, "Artist Melvin Way's Journey from Homelessness to Art World Acclaim," NY Observer.
Maurizio Cattelan, et al (ed.), Charley
Ken Johnson, "Of Signs and Wonders, Visionaries and Loners," The New York Times, January.
Munro, Eleanor, "Where Postmodern Art and Schizophrenia Intersect," The New York Times, March.
Weiss, Allan S., "Algebra is Drunkenness," Cabinet Magazine, New York, Fall.
Karlins, N.F., Raw Vision #34, Spring.
Fass, Allison, "The Legacy of the Outsider," The New York Times, July.
American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore
Antoine de Galbert Collection, Paris
Collection abcd, Montreuil
Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Transformer, Washington, D.C.
Treger Saint Silvestre, Porto
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.