AMES, Iowa — An exhibition that translates the religious experiences of pilgrimage to the secular world is on display through mid-February at the Iowa State University College of Design.

In “Every Step Toward Home,” Iowa artist Melissa Airy reflects on both inward and outward spiritual journeys through mental and physical spaces. Her work is a visual representation of her personal experiences as a sojourner to sacred landscapes in an attempt to understand the profound sense of purpose and awakening encountered on the way.

Most prominently, Airy has embarked on the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile ancient pilgrimage trail across Spain. As a deeply personal practice, she uses performance art, video and installation as avenues to understand, express and share the experiences she had while journeying.

Gallery hours

The exhibition will run Jan. 19–Feb. 12 in Gallery 181, located on the first floor of the College of Design building on the west side of the Iowa State campus. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday. Admission is free; face coverings and physical distancing are required.

Airy will also participate in virtual visits with College of Design classes during the exhibition.

About the artist

Airy holds a bachelor of fine arts in performance art and a bachelor of arts in art education from the University of Northern Iowa. She received a master of fine arts with a major emphasis in intermedia art and a secondary emphasis in sculpture from the University of Iowa in 2020. Airy is a lecturer in studio arts at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point and previously taught at all levels of art education before entering graduate school.


Melissa Airy, Artist, mairy@uwsp.edu
Rachel Connell, Gallery Manager, raconn@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, hsauer@iastate.edu