Mel was born and raised in Montreal, and currently makes a living through costuming in the film industry. She is also an experienced collage artist.
“I was drawn to collage because I can’t draw or paint,” she says, laughing. “I love the mixing of textures and mediums that collage allows for. I've always been aesthetically drawn to that.”
For Mel, each collage is different. It’s not obvious to know when a piece of work is finished. She’ll often push bits of paper around, adding and removing, looking for balance and negative space before committing to gluing.
“I am a turtle,” she says about the pace of her process. “But I'm okay with that.”
She admires prolific artists who seem to churn out work daily. But more specifically, she loves collage artists with a distinct style and voice, and appreciates those that can incorporate drawing skills into their work.
“The big challenge,” she says, “is making a collage into an actual ‘work of art’. But the process of collage making, in and of itself, is a great exercise of hanging out with your thoughts in a meditative way.”
The beauty of collage, she attests, is its accessibility—anyone can cut and glue stuff. That's why she loves not only making collage, but also teaching it. For the past two years she has participated in a teaching residency called Mikw Chiyâm, an in-school arts initiative by the Cree School Board, and its sister program N'we Jinan in western Canada. The purpose of these programs is to encourage school retention through creative learning.
“I’ve always wanted to work more in-depth with students, and a multi-week residency allows the opportunity to explore collage with Indigenous youth. I’m not there save the world. I’m simply there to teach art, to provide tools for creativity.”