If You Have Ghosts Then You Have Everything - Melanie MacDonald

Don‘t Read This If You’re A Woodpecker

The Scrapbook Paintings by Melanie MacDonald

14 June – 26 July 2014
Opening Reception, 14 June 7-9pm
St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre
301 Talbot Street, St. Thomas, Ontario

Gallery Hours: Tues-Wed 10-4 Thurs-Friday 10-9 Sat 12-4 Sun 12-3
Admission is Free

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. 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 scrapbooker 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.