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Overdue

Mel Taing ‘16 BFA
  • Alumni
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Filmmaker, photographer, and community artist and educator Mel Tiang on resourcefulness, doing it all, and embracing the winding road.

I think that MassArt graduates stand out in a crowd because they’re clever and resourceful. In the film program, for example, you don’t just learn lighting and then get to be a gaffer. You have to wear every single hat to make your film work. And that’s powerful. MassArt students can do a lot, with less.

The power of saying ‘yes’

After graduating from MassArt with a degree in film and video, I decided to go into photography; it’s a language I love to speak and it made sense for me after college. I thought I’d never do filmmaking again. But now, crazily, I’m producing and co-directing a documentary, OVERDUE, about the new Boston Chinatown library. It’s an important film because Chinatown hasn’t had a permanent library branch since 1956. Through this documentary, we’re hoping to platform every community member who made bringing a permanent library branch to Chinatown possible, 70 years later. It’s a story about reclamation, repair, and restoration.

So yes, I studied film, and now I’m a filmmaker — but I’ve had a lot of diverse experiences in my career. Today, I still have a creative portraiture practice. I also do exhibition documentation for art museums in the area, which is completely different. I’ve said yes to a lot of new things and different challenges throughout my career. I see incredible transformative projects happening and I want to jump in. I can’t just pick one thing. I believe my continued connection to the MassArt community has supported these new and different career paths every step of the way, and for that, I’m grateful! 

I’m also vice chair of the Alumni Leadership Council. Essentially what we do is work to connect MassArt graduates to each other, back to the school, and then to current students. When (students) graduate from MassArt, they might think, ‘Oh, God, real life!’ But we want them to know it’s okay. You’re supported, and you’re part of a community. There are so many opportunities, and so much to say ‘yes’ to.

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