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Melissa Maddonni Haims: IED #9


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Melissa Maddonni Haims
IED #9
Upholstery textiles, various threads, yarns, cassette tape, leather, suede, postindustrial, pre consumer waste. Stuffed with the shredded fabric of humanity.
10" x 8" x 5"

About the Work

IEDs are soft sculptures based on the behavioral diagnosis "Intermittent Explosive Disorder," a disorder characterized by sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts that are disproportionate to the situation. IED is usually associated with additional mood disorders, such as Bipolar Disorder and Manic Depression.

Using divergent materials such as the shredded fabric of humanity and machine knit poly cotton yarns, I bind and coil, cinch, sew, and truss my work into awkward shapes to symbolize the physical embodiment of internal rage and discomfort. Each organ-like sculpture personifies an individual expression of the daily stresses and frustrations we accumulate and push down into a tightly bound knot of smoldering fury. These soft sculptures represent the knotted stomachs of the 5.7 million people in America (18+) who are living with Bipolar Disorder.


After attending a long list of East Coast art schools studying sculpture, painting, and printmaking, her career began in New York City in the 1990s. Eventually, life led her back to Philadelphia, where she now lives with her husband and daughter.

Melissa's work has been held and displayed in galleries, museums, and in private collections throughout the United States. In 2014 she was featured on an A&E network television program about artists who make work out of unusual materials. She has been yarn-bombing internationally since 2010.

Since 2012, Haims has focused on creating work about death, dying, and mental illness. She draws viewers in with color, texture, and the promise of a tactile experience (every piece of work is meant to be touched, loved, and handled). They then deliver a "one, two punch" with a challenge to think and talk about difficult subjects. More specifically, her work has largely focused on America's endemic gun violence and its impact on our communities.

Her latest large-scale installation was with March for our Lives in 2020. She crocheted a 25' flag for a voter registration event on the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art's staircase.