Josette Melchor is the Global Placemaking Lead at Google and the former Head of Cultural Programming for the future cities initiative at WeWork. She is also the Founder of Gray Area Foundation For The Arts, a leading San Francisco non-profit dedicated to applying art and technology to create social and civic impact. Throughout her career, she has focused on developing strategic community engagement models with art and tech in the civic realm.
As a Community Organizer, she partners with cities to address civic issues through public activations such as the Urban Prototyping Festival. A respected Executive Director, she has implemented sustainable revenue models to stabilize organizations and led fundraising campaigns to revive the historic Grand Theater as an 800 person venue in the Mission District as well as the Oakland Fire Fund to serve hundreds affected by the Ghostship tragedy. Melchor has been selected and featured in Fast Company, Wired, and Techcrunch as an innovative Community Leader building local power and fighting inequality.
As a Curator, Josette instigated the first exhibition that paired artificial neural networks with artists which helped establish the Artists and Machine Intelligence program at Google. She spearheaded the development of Gray Area’s Knight Foundation-supported Experiential Space Research Lab, developing sustainable models for artists to work within the quickly evolving format of immersive experiences.
She was gifted her first set of turntables at seventeen, which inspired her to DJ and develop an eclectic collection of music at the confluence of disco, techno and house. Her selections are influenced by over fifteen years of large-scale media arts production and relationships with well known music producers.
She has led the development of hundreds of interactive media projects utilizing cutting edge technologies and recently helped start an experiential media studio Dreamboat with a small team of artists.
In other words, Josette Melchor is a Human classified as a Community Organizer, Curator, Entrepreneur, DJ, Queer Mexican Woman programming life at the intersection of art, technology, and cities.
She has also worked with notable designers and interdisciplinary research centers including: MIT Senseable City Lab, Institute of Computer Sound and Technology, Stamen Design, Code for America; artists C.E.B Reas, Robert Hodgin, Aaron Koblin, Camille Utterback, and many more.
She has spoken at DLD, TEDx Silicon Valley, Art Center College of Design, and Stanford.
She is also on the Advisory Board of the Burning Man Project and The Processing Foundation.
Shorter Bio Version
Josette Melchor is the Global Placemaking Lead at Google. She is also the Founder of Gray Area, and the former Head of Cultural Programming for the future cities initiative at WeWork. In 2008, she led the effort to incorporate Gray Area into a 501(c)3 nonprofit, enacting her pioneering vision of a living creative hub for the integrated practice of art and technology, a uniquely San Franciscan institution globally recognized for its forward-looking programming around creative coding education and cultural incubation. Melchor’s background as a queer, third-generation Mexican-American has grounded her deep commitment to safeguarding diverse communities in the midst of a rapidly gentrifying San Francisco. In collaboration with the City of San Francisco, she created the first Urban Prototyping Festival in 2012, creating a platform for citizens to address civic issues through public activations, which has since been copied worldwide. In 2016, Melchor instigated the first exhibition that paired artificial neural networks with artists, which helped establish the Artists and Machine Intelligence program at Google, ushering in a new movement in Artificial Intelligence assisted artwork. She most recently spearheaded the development of Gray Area’s Knight Foundation-supported Experiential Space Research Lab, developing sustainable models for artists to work within the quickly evolving format of immersive experiences.
- Josette Melchor on creating something that’s bigger than you from a conversation with Willa Köerner for The Creative Independent
- Arts And Tech Non-Profit Gray Area Is A Symbol For A Changing City by Kim-Mai Cutler for Techcrunch
-Josette Melchor’s Gray Area blends art and tech to create social and civic impact by Jay Woodruff for Fast Company
-Mission District’s Gray Area exists where art, technology intersect by Ryan Kost for San Francisco Chronicle
-Creating Prototypes For Urban Space, By Combining Art And Tech by Whitney Pastorek for Fast Company
Selected appearances at conferences, festivals, and venues :
University of Chicago | Chicago, Illinois
Neurosummit Pender Island | British Columbia, Canada
Resonate Festival | Belgrade, Serbia
Mutek Festival | Mexico City, Mexico
Mutek Festival | Montreal, Canada
Digital Life Design | Munich, Germany
Picnic Festival | Amsterdam, Netherlands
TEDx Silicon Valley | Stanford, CA
Art Center College of Design | Pasadena, CA
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts | San Francisco, CA
Creators Project Festival | San Francisco, CA
Oakland United | Fox Theater, Oakland, CA
Social Media Week | New York, NY
California College of the Arts | San Francisco, CA
The Art, Technology, + Culture Colloquium | Berkeley, CA