Austin-based Mel Ziegler was born in Campbelltown. PA in 1956. He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and his MFA in sculpture from CalArts. From the late 1970s until her death in 1995, Ziegler collaborated with his partner, Kate Ericson. Their projects created new vocabularies for making art in public spaces, by involving community, examining history and responding to specific sites.
The works or Ericson and Ziegler have been exhibited in a range of venues, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT; and Capp Street Project, San Francisco, CA. Their works were included in the 1989 Whitney Biennial; the 1991 “Places With A Past” public art component at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC; Sculpture Chicago’s 1993 “Culture in Action” project; and the 1999 Museum of Modern Art exhibit, “The Museum is Muse.”
The public nature of Ziegler’s work continues the themes and forms established with Ericson over the course of their collaboration. Sites and histories are methodically researched, as in the case of Camouflaged History for the Spoleto Festival, in which a house was painted in a camouflage pattern in 72 paint colors designated as the “authentic colors of historic Charleston” by the Charleston Historic Society. Projects generally involved public space: in San Francisco, the artists inscribed roofing shingles with San Francisco’s street names and then re-roofed a neighborhood house with the transformed materials.