Archetypes: Lisa Melandri

 In Culture, Feature


An interview with Lisa Melandri, director of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. She took the position in August after serving as the deputy director for exhibitions and programming at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Throughout her career, Melandri has been known for curating innovative multimedia exhibits, and she is already bringing a fresh perspective to CAM. Her energy and enthusiasm in attracting new audiences into the museum through unique events and one-of-a-kind exhibitions reflect her commitment to growing the art community in St. Louis.

What is your current frame of mind?
Optimistic and inclusive.

When and where are you happiest?
When I first open my eyes in the morning.

What is your favorite smell?

What is one word that describes you?

What did you eat for breakfast today?

Coffee and Necco wafers (from an Art of Traveling fundraiser at the airport).  

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Ostensibly, therefore, totally and seriously. I blame it on my time in California.

What is your most marked characteristic?
I swear a lot. Like, a lot, a lot.

What is your greatest weakness? I can be too

Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
A split between my husband, Jordan, and my mom.

What trait do you most admire in others?

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To be more fearless.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

The relationships I’ve made and maintained.

Which living person do you most admire?  
I am going to split this one between my 99-year-old paternal grandmother, and given recent events, the extraordinarily courageous Malala Yousafzai.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
A combination of the artists Louise Bourgeois, Alice Neel and Beatrice Wood. All three were flawed and suffered in their personal lives, yet each had such an independent voice, forged a unique path and left a true contribution to the
world—that’s something to aspire to!

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what would it would be?
A really great philanthropist.

What is your greatest extravagance? Indoor and
outdoor plants.

What is your greatest fear?
Failing at anything.

On what occasion do you lie?
I do lie, but not about anything serious. Mostly, I love to joke with people by making up stories.

Who are your favorite artists?
Piero Della Francesca, Burri, Philip Guston and William Pope.L.

What is your favorite hobby?
Watching sports.

Where would you like to live?
Eventually, near the ocean or the sea.

Who are your heroes in real life?  
My mom and dad, and public servants. If you could have dinner with one person,
dead or alive, who would it be? Catherine de Medici.

What’s something interesting that you just learned?
What a Billiken is.

What are you most looking forward to?
The first snow.

What is something you wish would happen?
I wish we could find some political and social middle ground, especially in places like Libya.

What is something you still want to learn?
How to speak Spanish, golf and knit.

What is one thing you want to do before you

I’d like to see a lot more of this world.

If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be?

Don’t be scared.



Archetypes: Lisa Melandri


Photo credit: Wesley Law

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