Fragments of Joy - An Artists Look at Life Through a Microscopic Lens

Melanie Pinto @thefreedomfactorytoronto 25/04/20

Heeding the advice of savants and sages everywhere, many people, in search of a silver lining in this global pandemic, attempt to see the bigger picture.  They take solace in knowing that the world’s attention has been diverted back to life’s simpler pleasures and “basic” has become the new “extra”.

For local Toronto artist Melissa Cormier, this concept is nothing new.  In fact, Melissa has  focused her art career on slowing things down and seeing them differently. Yet her fascination is not with the overview or “the big picture”, but rather the microcosm. A deep understanding of the use of texture, light and shadow enable this remarkable talent to find the hidden beauty that we are surrounded by every day.  Like an artistic  microscope, Melissa uses graphite and water colour to expose nature’s complexities. Melissa’s work is visually pleasing but more than that, it evokes a connection that runs deeper than our conscious thought. Perhaps through her shadows and light Melissa Cormier holds space for us to be a part of something much larger than ourselves. It is always an honour to show Melissa’s work and we invite you to enjoy her story.

Pareidolia (/pærɪˈdoʊliə/ parr-i-DOH- lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists. The attempt with my work is to evoke a personal narrative where the viewer discovers a represented form through abstract imagery with textures of the familiar.

Light and the Absence of It is an ongoing body of work that depicts surreal imagery through gradients of light or color to materialize textures. A two-dimensional choreography transpires between light, dark and detail to create shapes that resemble a moment, memory or thing that the viewer has experienced or witnessed.

Creating a visual bond in my attempt to subconsciously initiate a pareidolia, using textures and shapes that span from known terrestrial plains to uncharted cosmic highways and the space between.

"By taking a close look at the natural world, it quickly became the foundation of my inspiration. From the terrestrial radius of the earth to the never-ending vistas of the cosmic realm,  my fascination and admiration of these spaces are the textures that dwell within them. 

Working mainly in the style of abstraction, I combine fluid gestures using mainly graphite, watercolor and ink then fuse representational patterns into the overall composition.

I completed her BFA in Printmaking at OCAD University in Toronto, On Canada in 2012 and currently operate out of my studio in Toronto" - Melissa

In the eye of your anxiety, is the natural impulse to draw or do you talk yourself through it, eventually using art as a tool?

To be honest a natural response. When I feel anxious or stressed, I draw. When I feel happy or content about anything, I turn toward drawing. At either end of the spectrum, art is therapeutic, as most avenues for creativity are. It’s a way of draining whatever ails or excites me at that time, I work it out through shapes, lines and shadows.

Do you set out to provide solace to others with your work or is that a by-product?

I would say by-product. It isn’t my intention but when it does it makes me feel grateful that I could do that for someone. Sometimes my work will have underlying symbology of a feeling or experience. Sometimes it is simply a combination of textures that I found inspirational at the time, which may affect someone differently than it does me. My art doesn’t intentionally represent anything in particular, given its abstracted qualities, but I have had people tell me, “Oh I see that this resembles that,” or “this gives me the feeling of.” It depends, but I think that’s why I’ve chosen the word paradolia as the root explanation or intention of my work; see what you want to see. I enjoy hearing what people see in my work, because it gives me an alternating perspective, and inspires me.

Does the hope and light evolve from the creative process or does the art serve as a platform for the hope that you already felt?

I think it evolves from it. I turn to art for solace when things are heavy and seem uncertain to provide comfort and by simply moving pencil to paper it makes me feel emotionally lighter.

What fragments of the past will comfort you as we move forward?

People, places, and things to a lesser extent. My greatest comforts will come from my loved ones, who have always been there and will be, such as my other half. Recounting places I have traveled to, and planning places to go to after. Regarding the things, it would be my art supplies and books.

What lessons have you learned about herself or your environment during this global transition?


Not so much a lesson, but an appreciation and a deep gratefulness. A lot of my friends are faced with uncertainty with their jobs, whereas thankfully not a whole has changed for me; I still have a space to create in. My appreciation and gratefulness runs deep for the people on the frontlines keeping all of us safe and the connection I have with my friends and family. Even though it may not be a physical one right now, the emotional tether of support has been the saviour.

How important is your creative process to your ability to cope/thrive in uncertain times and in general?

Very. I’m not sure how I would fare without a pencil and paper. My sketchbook/journal is part of my daily ritual. It houses clusters of thoughts or doodles from a current perspective. Whatever I may be feeling/thinking about that day I make a mark about it. And lately, that’s where I have been spending most of my time. I like the playfulness with sketching; a visual diary, depicting my personal experience during COVID19.

Please visit her Melissa on Instagram @armcstudio and check out her website

We encourage you to support local artists as the world needs more great art!

- Melanie

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