Mel Ziegler began his undergraduate studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, later transferring to the Kansas City Art Institute to complete his BFA in 1978. He earned an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia in 1982. It was in Kansas City that he met Kate Ericson, his future artistic collaborator of 18 years. Together, Ericson and Ziegler made influential site-specific installations and objects concerned with mapping trajectories, questioning history, and highlighting the specificity of places and communities—all themes that had also been important for Ziegler in his early solo works. After the tragic and premature death of his partner Kate Ericson in 1995, Mel Ziegler has continued to show works nationally and internationally. Many of his early works are compiled in his exhibition catalogue of the same name stuffed (2003), for the Secession, Vienna, Austria; additional images of recent works can be viewed at Galerie Perrotin.
Ziegler earned a Loeb Fellowship for study at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University in 1996-97. He continues to lecture and exhibit throughout the United States, Europe and South America. He recently completed several new projects, Downtown Mixer, in Houston Texas involving collecting breath samples from over 1600 participants in eight different high-rises, Messages from Murray in Murray, Kentucky involving the community writing messages on packing boxes from local manufacturers and most recently a project for Cheekwood Museum of Art and Botanical Garden called Smell The Flowers involving the collaboration of the US Military Ziegler’s current ongoing projects include a public art master plan for Lake Como Park in Fort Worth, TX and a major public art commission for the Art In Public Places Program, Cambridge, MA. He has recently received the Big Bang award from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. Ziegler spent ten years as a Professor of Sculpture at the University of Texas, Austin. He is currently on his sixth year as a Professor of Art and Chair of the newly created Department of Art at Vanderbilt University in Nashville , TN. He is currently on research leave for the 2012/13 school year.