Haas Scholars

Haley Mellin

Ancient Egyptian Mummy Portraits: Looking into the Faces of the Past and Present

Current Bio: Haley is a painter and land conservationist. Conservation is a central part of her art practice. She completed a residency at the Whitney Museum in New York City, and a PhD in Visual Culture and Education. Haley exhibits in Europe and in the United States and focuses on traditional painting techniques as they intersect with contemporary visual culture and technologies. In her conservation work, she created two non-profits, Art into Acres and Conserve.org. They involve people from the wider arts community in learning about large-scale landscape ecosystems, supporting millions of acres of new protected areas to date. Art into Acres supports the art community in conserving land, and Conserve.org supports all people in conserving their first acre. The focus is on historic forests for biodiversity.

Haas Scholars Project: An Art Practice major, Haley painted a series of portraits using the techniques and materials found in the Fayum mummy portraits of Ancient Egypt. The Fayum portraits are the oldest body of human portraiture that still remains, in part due to their encaustic (wax-based paint). Created during the first and second centuries CE for burial ritual purposes, the paintings are heralded for their technical and emotive mastery. Haley conducted fieldwork in Brooklyn, New York, London and Cambridge, researching the technical aspects of the portraits by viewing some of the most acclaimed paintings and consulting with researchers in this field. Studying Greek painter Eurphosyne Dioxidis, Haley will learn the hard tool, resin binding and encaustic painting techniques that have preserved the portraits over the last 2,000 years. The project culminated in a spring exhibition of her paintings at the Worth Ryder gallery on the U.C. Berkeley campus. She produced a digital compilation of a selection of Fayum portraits, together with their methods and recipes, for reference by other artists and art historians.

  • Major: Art Practice
  • Mentor: Professor Katherine Sherwood, Art Practice