More about the artist
Melissa’s artistic journey began when she was very young. She remembers a curiosity for the images found in her grandfather’s library. She would spend hours studying and drawing images of birds, mammals, reptiles and even Greek gods. She had a curiosity for almost everything. Living on acreage close to the ocean meant endless hours playing in the forest or along the beaches. This curiosity was nourished through her large and eccentric family. Her family members were frontiersmen, fishermen and more notably, storytellers. These early years served as a catalyst for Melissa’s desire to tell a different story, one through images.
Melissa left home at a very young age, 15. Wherever she went she managed to find work in the outdoors, with animals or on farms. Her love for wildlife and nature endured wherever she went. She graduated high school with an artist award and was sponsored for art school. Melissa found herself at a crossroads after completing two years of intensive art studies. It was expensive and distracting living in the lower mainland, and having horses meant bills larger than she could afford. So, at 21 Melissa moved north and found work in the coal and oil mines. Melissa lived in very remote areas where she encountered wild animals, rugged landscapes and different ways of life. Her love for the untamed Canada intensified and she soon realized she couldn’t continue mining; she wanted to do something more positive in life. She decided to study something different: the human condition. Melissa went back to school at 26 and completed a degree in Psychology at UBC. Her interest in this subject stemmed in part from her own mental health issues, but also because of her older brother. Brent has a severe case of Tourette’s syndrome, the issues with this syndrome left him isolated, in emotional and physical pain. Learning about how genetics, environment and biology interact to produce differing symptoms has given Melissa a different perspective on life and in the way she understands people.
All these experiences have been a catalyst for the works she creates. Her work focuses on a range of subjects, and uses a variety of both bought and found materials. Canadian landmarks and animals that symbolize traits and Indigenous knowledge inspire her work. Melissa also focuses on the interaction between humanity and the living earth. Some of her works are meant to make the viewer wonder about their own relationship to waterways, nature and the impact of our consumption. Her focus is to portray nature’s resilience to harsh and changing environments while also discussing ways nature can provide insight.