DON'T READ THIS IF YOU'RE A WOODPECKER Paintings by Melanie MacDonald at the St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre June 14 - July 26, 2014 Opening Reception on 14 June at 7 pm
The St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre is pleased to present the artwork of Melanie MacDonald from June 14 to July 26, 2014. This series of paintings is based on imagery from a pair of scrapbooks made anonymously during the late 1930s and early 1940s. The creative re-appropriation of mass culture found in these books represents an effort to sustain cultural memory in some form, to somehow preserve and compile what is otherwise discarded, valueless and obsolete.
The scrapbooker used the same techniques we’ve come to associate with more prestigious traditions of modern art and I began this project by reproducing individual pages faithfully in paint. Eventually, I used the scrapbooks as an image bank, and in the spirit of the original creator, developed my own compositions. By taking the private, often trivialized and feminized hobby of scrapbooking and presenting it in ‘heroic scale,’ I celebrate the efforts of the scrap-booker and the symbolic richness of the images themselves. Like a ruin of a bygone era, a reminder of a past we can’t fully understand, the meaning and context of these works is obscured. As paintings, they become a series of riddles holding a mirror to the madness of the world and reflecting our contemporary sense of shattered innocence and vanishing optimism. Melanie MacDonald lives in downtown St. Catharines and is an active member of the Niagara Artists Centre. She has participated in group and solo exhibitions in Niagara, Hamilton, London, Kingston, Toronto, Western New York and Quebec. Her work was selected to appear in Carte Blanche 2: Painting, Magenta Publishing’s national survey of Canadian painters. In 2009 she received a Trillium Excellence in the Arts Emerging Artist Award from the City of St. Catharines. She has been the recipient of numerous Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance grants. www.melaniemacdonald.ca