Melissa Tremblett

We are thrilled to present emerging artist Melissa Tremblett, who has much to celebrate this month: not only is she our Member of the Month, but she is part of a group show tet; mâni; ute | here, opening at the Eastern Edge Gallery.

About the artist

“Coming to an understanding that my art is a product of myself and putting my art into the world opens myself to genuine conversation.”


Melissa Tremblett is a visual artist of Innu and English heritage who works mainly in fibre art and installation, but also enjoys photography, printmaking, and performance.

A recent visual arts grad, Melissa studied art at Grenfell College after first obtaining a behavioural neuroscience degree from MUN in 2011. Since completing her BFA in 2015, her accomplishments have been many. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and abroad (The Rooms; Tina Dolter Gallery; Gatehouse Arts, Essex; Art Gallery of Ontario; and the British Museum, London) and she is the recipient of the the Short Family Award, Mercy/Presentation Education Fund Award, and a Professional Project Grant through the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council.

Tremblett, who now lives in Corner Brook, grew up in Sheshatshiu, Labrador, but moved to Newfoundland with her family when she was just three. She did all of her schooling in Newfoundland but spent her summers in Sheshatshiu and other coastal communities in northern Labrador. Living between the Innu community of Sheshatshiu in Labrador and the island of Newfoundland has had a profound influence on her work.

Can you talk to us about themes in your art?

The themes I work with depend on what I am processing in my personal life. I work using concepts as they present themselves. Some concepts I have worked with previously are: identity, self-discovery, acceptance and forgiveness. Currently I am working towards spiritual healing.

Feelings of disconnection and not belonging have had a large impact on my life starting in childhood. One example would involve language. In Sheshatshiu, the first language is Innu-Aimun [Innu], but since I left when I was just three I didn’t learn how to speak it. When I was home, people would speak to me in English, but they would turn to one another and speak in Innu—I was never able to understand what was going on around me. This is a theme which materializes in my art practice; I feel that I lost opportunities to learn how to communicate.

How would you describe your artwork?

My art practice stemmed from a need to process experiences and emotions. My first experience making art was during art therapy when I was 19. I hadn’t had much success with verbal therapies, and as soon as I started using art as a way of expression my healing journey began.

Knowing that art was a therapeutic process, I used my time in the visual arts program to learn new ways of expressing myself. I fell in love with photography, printmaking, and performance (I already had a love for textiles). I learned about conceptual art while at Grenfell which suited my emerging practice where the process of making art was equally, or more, important than the final product.

Can you describe your art career so far?

In the beginning I wasn’t prepared for the feedback I was receiving about how my work has affected people. I had been terrified about showing my work, as it was so personal and I didn’t think anyone would get it; the response was overwhelming. I can fully appreciate how my art is reflected in others’ experience and takes a new meaning for every viewer. And that has contributed immensely to my confidence as an artist.

I don’t keep regular studio hours at this point. I am working full time and I use any time I have during the week to work on things. I do spend a lot of time reflecting and mentally working through concepts and possibilities. I try to keep notes about ideas I have and refer back to them as needed.

I also enjoy researching definitions and origins of words that intrigue me. For instance, the word vestige has interested me for some time. Doing research through the lens of my personal experience, a concept emerged which eventually evolved into my previous solo exhibition 1876 changed my life.

Can you share with us any funny stories that you have experienced along your art path?

When applying to the BFA program there was an option to send a digital submission. I had no idea how to use a camera or work with digital things. So I packed my actual art: three large boxes with things like VHS tapes stuck to mirrors with the tape hauled out and dream catchers made in picture frames. I was late to the last final of my neuroscience degree because it took so long at Purolator trying to sort out and send the boxes to Corner Brook.

What advice would you tell others emerging artists. 

I would say to listen to your heart and make the kind of art that nourishes you. If working in an environment such as university for example, where conceptual limitations can be used as parameters, make the art you need to make anyway. Don’t be limited by your own judgements and expectations and don’t ever allow yourself to be limited by anyone else’s expectations.

I am the only person I have to live with at the end of the day and when I sacrifice my personal integrity to fit within artificial parameters, it is a disservice. When I understood that concepts are just jumping off points and not limiting factors, I was able to thrive and develop into the artist I am today.

Whats next?

I look forward to hopefully work in my community more in the future and creating collaborations and programs to facilitate healing through art.

2018 (upcoming) Reclamation, Government House, St. John’s, NL

Where to see Melissa’s work now

tet; mâni; ute | here,

with John Jeddore and curated by Joanna Barker, is at Eastern Edge in the main gallery from April 21st-June 2nd, 2018.

Instagram: melissatremblettart

Website: melissatremblett.wixsite.comartist


Pepa Chan

Pepa Chan is a self-taught visual artist, art educator and collector originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is the gallery assistant at St. Michael’s Printshop and a screen printer at Living Planet Studio in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Chan is interested in the lost, the tortured, the sick and the tormented. Her work focuses in unravelling memories embedded in objects, especially toys, and working with childhood trauma as a strong focus. Chan works with sculpture, painting, printmaking, performance and installation art. In addition to being part of The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery’s Permanent Collection, Chan’s work has been featured in exhibitions locally, nationally and internationally. She also holds various private collections in North America, Argentina and the UK.


Rodney Mercer

BIO:

 

Rodney Mercer was born in St. John’s in 1971 and raised in Dildo, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador. He moved to Corner Brook, NL in 1995 to study visual art at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University and since then, he has been a fixture in the community and is considered a local treasure.

Mercer is a full-time, self-employed visual artist living off sales and commissions of his work. He also gives private instruction to children, adults and people with special needs.

Mercer’s practice has ventured into visual languages that include hard edge abstraction and materials such as seal skin to create works in defense (and celebration) of his culture, but he is best known for his realist, narrative, figurative paintings and prints that are often allegorical.

Executed with the classical precision of the Old Masters, Mercer’s paintings possess the same haunting resonance that can be identified in the work of Alex Colville or Christopher Pratt.

Mercer draws heavily on Baroque traditions such as chiaroscuro (intense light and dark), rich colour, drama, and tenebrism (dramatic illumination) to generate mood and tone. The contemporary subjects (modeled after photographs of friends and/or recognizable figures in his community) posed in interior spaces or black theatrical voids, act out narratives that transform ordinary things and people into evocative spaces of mystical contemplation.

 

 

1. When did you first realize that you wanted to become an artist?

As far back as grade school.. In grade two friends and family liked my doodles and were very encouraging. I enjoyed how these little drawings and would get people excited. As I got older, more notably at the time I was in grade six I was introduced to the works of Gerald Squires, Mary Pratt, Christopher Pratt, Don Wright and Stewart Montgomerie. Their works were featured in “Doryloads” which was a school text book produced by Kevin Major for Breakwater Books. A little later our school art club went on a field trip that visited the then newly opened Emma Butler Gallery. The works of Bill Ritchie and the Pratts had a huge effect. Even though I was still very much “just a puppy” I did sense that there was much more to the works than the image. You could feel it. I thought “That’s a good job!”

 

2. What mediums do you work in and why?

I work in oils, acrylic, various drawing media and printmaking. In my own practice I enjoy very much the act of drawing. I enjoy the craft of making pictures and recognise the value of drawing and how it is often the “starting point”

 

 3. What other artists influence your artwork?

That’s a big question and a really good one! I would confidently say that every artist I have been exposed to have had an influence on my work. They reinforce, sometimes change and other times dismiss my ideas about art and my art practice.

 

4. What are the ‘big’ themes in your artwork?

Change, place, permanence, order, disorder, chaos, I could go on. My work is multilayered. Its relationship to the viewer, myself and the time period it in which it is viewed is not necessarily one in the same.

 

5. What is the greatest challenge you face as an artist working in Newfoundland and Labrador?

The arts are a renewable resource that brings new dollars into the province. It is the artists that facilitate and sustain the culture yet it is so vastly underfunded. More money need to be invested. It has been proven time and time again in outside regions how investment into the arts boosts the economy. While it is great that money is provided to promote the culture with colourful TV and print ads to boost tourism it also seems somewhat redundant if the said culture is suffering to the point where it becomes even impossible for some to engage in an arts practice.

 

6. What is the best thing about working as an artist in this province?

In the global community this province is unique in what it presents to the world stage. It is both contemporary and well rooted. It is ever evolving. I can never give what I have received from this province’s artists. To even be some small part of that is incredible and something i don’t take lightly.

 

7. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In my studio making pictures or preparing to do so.

 

8. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?

I would be practicing medicine as a Paediatrician. Something I had strongly considered persuing when applying to university.

 

9. If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?

In relationship to being an artist: 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 air miles so I could regularly travel the globe to experience as much art as possible.

 

 

Photo by Lisa LeDrew Photography