For 13 years, Melanie Piech, a California native, practiced law. She went from being miserable as a first year associate in an insurance defense firm, to being successful, but not fulfilled, as a partner with a nationwide practice in a plaintiffs’ class action law firm.
While practicing law, her daydreams were occupied with design projects. In her mind, she created designs, chose materials and planned trips to lumberyards and hardware stores. When time permitted, her dreams emerged, but these times were rare. Still, the urge to design and build stayed with her.
Her parents had instilled in her an attitude that with research and hard work, anything is possible. Her father, an aerospace engineer, was a tinkerer in his spare time, making electrical components out of tubes and hand-made circuit boards, building wooden cabinets and furniture and fixing electrical and plumbing problems. Her mother, a former elementary school teacher, remained in constant motion, serving as set designer, seamstress, florist, and decorator for the family home and various charities.
After taking time off lawyering to raise a child, Melanie decided to pursue her true passion and make art. She enrolled in a second degree program at the San Francisco Art Institute and has spent the last several years acquiring technical skills, including learning to weld steel and bronze and to solder silver, brass and copper, mold making and casting techniques and using a computer-aided design program in order to plan, visualize and explain designs, along with refining her wood working skills. Along the way she’s achieved not just artistic, but personal growth. “When I was a lawyer, I always felt like I was pretending to be somebody else. Now I just feel a lot more comfortable in my skin.”
2008 – present – San Francisco Art Institute, BFA Candidate, 2018
1989 – University of California, Hastings College of the Law, JD
1986 – Loyola Marymount University, BA, magna cum laude