Creative Personality: An Interview With Artist Malorie Shmyr

by Lindsay Shapka in ,


Malorie on set at my travel inspired photo shoot 

After just one visit to malorieshmyr.com  it is obvious that this talented creative director, fine artist and 3D modeler is something special.

The last couple of years have brought a world of success for this Edmonton, Alberta-based talent whose whimsical view of the world has been translated in movies, on the runway, on canvas, in print, and in photographs. I have had the honour of knowing Malorie for many years now and have had the pleasure of interviewing her to get some insight into the life and mind of a working artist. 

Obsessed with staying in the lines as a child, Malorie's professional career as an artist really started with the decision to attend the Academy of Art in San Francisco where she learned how to create 3D models for video games (a skill that she has also used to help develop 3D sets for movies as well).  

Though there was clearly money in this type of work, she soon realized that her true love was painting, drawing (see sketches from her notebooks below), and creative directing.

"I love the idea of using more than one medium to convey ideas," Malorie told me.  

The Anthrotorian (A): Where does your inspiration come from?
Malorie Shmyr (MS): It would be rare to have something not inspire me! It might be something a part of everyday life, or even just a feeling. I am also inspired by great artists like Klimt, Dali, Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, and the sketches of Michelangelo.

A: What do you hope to accomplish with your art?
MS: The technical training that I had gave me a need to please an audience with my art. It took me a long time to learn how to create for myself and not with other people in mind. My ultimate hope is to inspire. Even if I don't sell I piece if I inspire someone that's ok.  

A: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
MS: Hmmm... inspired, imaginative, excited. 

Malorie painting in her sun-drenched studio

Malorie has directed and shot countless photo shoots for local designers, hairstylists, magazines (check out her digital publication Opalus Magazine), and friends (including me!).

I was lucky one warm Sunday afternoon to have Malorie shoot some beautiful photographs of me at her studio, and I envy the people that get to work with her on a professional level often.

She has never-ending energy, vision, and inspiration when on set that is absolutely contagious!

Here are a few images from our shoot together: 

Malorie's upcoming project is also the one that seems to be the closest to her heart. It is something that she has been actively been working on for a few years now, but seems to have been in the works for most of her life: 

"I used to be really self-conscious about my body. I cried a lot. Recently I saw pictures of myself at, what I considered to be, my worst and really reflected on what it was that I was so worried about. I realized that I wasted a lot of tears. I wished I could tell that girl, 'I wish you could see through my eyes how beautiful you are'."  

Sick of Photoshop, Hollywood, and other women making her feel bad about her body, she decided to take charge through her art. As part of her research for the project, she started talking to female family and friends about how they viewed themselves:  

"If I had known that all of the other girls were as self-conscious as me, it would have made growing up much easier." 

She selected a group of models for the project and had them each tell her what part of their body they were the most self-conscious about. Then using pen and ink, and acrylic on wooden canvases, she is creating a series of images that will represent the evolution from being trapped by your self-consciousness to being free from it. 

"When you first walk into the gallery... there is going to be a big wood panel covered in different colours of ink that will represent the self-consciousness. There will a mirror, so when you walk in you will see yourself in your outfit, your makeup. I know that a lot of girls, and me, look at what they are most self-conscious about first and then everything else. They will be reminded of their self-conscious before they even come into the exhibit. 

There will next be small wood panels with figures in black and white in swirls of colour in disturbing, sad poses. They are trapped inside their self-conscious. Restricted. They are not photo-realistic but exaggerated and distorted — how the models see it in their head.  

Next, these women will be standing in front of their self-consciousness (their colours) open, not covering their bodies, showing their body to us. In poses that are more confident. 

And then we will go to a large piece that will be many women together and they are all supporting each other, coming together, and not feeling self-conscious together. Being honest with each other to support each other better. It is going to be beautiful and really strong.  

And then, as you exit, there will be a wood board with a mirror mounted on it but with no colours, the self-consciousness is gone. I will then have the viewers of the exhibit write what they are self-conscious about on the board and once it has been written, it means that you are taking the first step to leave what you are self-conscious about behind you. My hope is then that people who come to the show and go out after will talk about what they wrote on the board and will start a dialogue about our worries and start supporting each other." 

When asked if she had ANYTHING else that she would want people to know about her, Malorie said this: 

My true goal is to inspire people. I love seeing people doing what they love and cannot imagine — I won’t — live any other way!



The Readymade World of Marcel Duchamp

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


When I was studying Art History, the most fascinating artists to me were the ones that made an effort to do something entirely different — the men and women that stuck their tongue out at the norm and refused to make the highbrow art world happy.

The wacky Marcel Duchamp, a Parisian who moved to New York in 1915 to escape the war, was one of these artists.

Bicycle Wheel, 1913      Marcel Duchamp    

Duchamp is most well known for his readymades — an object from popular or material culture presented as-is, without any further manipulation, as an artwork by an artist.

He believed that art should appeal to the intellect and not the senses, and thought that presenting everyday objects as art would do just that. 

His most notorious (and hilarious) readymade was the Fountain (below) —  literally a urinal that was turned 90 degrees and signed with the pseudonym "R. Mutt", a play on the manufacturer J.L. Mott Iron Works.

Fountain, 1917      Marcel Duchamp

Duchamp submitted the work anonymously to the first annual exhibition of the American Society of Independent Artists in 1917 as a test to see how open the Society was (ironically he was a founding member himself). Not surprisingly, the majority of the Society's member's declared that the piece was NOT art and they refused to exhibit it in the show.

Duchamp immediately resigned from the Society. 

Stieglitz's photo above is the ONLY known image of the original Fountain, as it mysteriously disappeared after it was rejected by the Society in New York.

Duchamp dealt with this loss by producing several more versions of the Fountain by simply buying new urinals and signing them "R. Mutt/1917" (one of the copies can be seen at SFMOMA — San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). 

Whether you agree that it is 'art' or not, you have to admit that these works elicit a reaction, and I would think a reaction to their work — which usually leads to a conversation — is ultimately what any artist hopes for. 

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Picasso's Woman In A Mantilla

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


La Salchichona 1917 — Picasso             Museu Picasso, Barcelona, Spain

This stunning work by Picasso is housed in the Museu Picasso in Barcelona.

I was completely enchanted by this work when I came upon it while walking through the museum one afternoon. It is oversized, and unlike anything that I had ever seen before — by Picasso or any other artist for that matter. 

When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.
— Pablo Picasso

The gaze of the women depicted is striking and seems to look right through you, but my favourite part of the piece is the obvious difference between the painted and unpainted sections.

Whether it was meant to be left this way or is unfinished, I don't know, but it is a breathtaking work that gives incredible insight into the artist's process.




Your Guide to Berlin's Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contemporary Art

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


After a reconstruction by architect Josef Paul Kleihues, the Hamburger Bahnhof reopened in 1996 as the Hamburger Bahnhof: Museum für Gegenwart — Museum for Contemporary Art — one of the first state museums in Berlin devoted to "living art." 

The building was originally erected in 1847 as one of the first terminal stations of the Berlin rail system, and then, in the early 20th century, the structure was converted into a museum of transport and construction. 

This beautiful gallery — my absolute favourite in Berlin — is now all skylights, white walls and polished wooden floors and is the home of an outstanding collection that focuses on art created since 1960. The central collection is from Berlin entrepreneur Dr Erich Marx, that includes work by Beuys, Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein and Warhol (whose iconic Mao has a permanent home here).

The National Gallery also has a permanent collection here with brilliant photography, painting and video art from the likes of Andreas GurskyBill Viola and Marcel Odenbach, while The Marzona collection — a shining example of conceptual and minimal art — includes work by Ronald BladenGiuseppe Penone and Mario Merz.