Creative Personality: An Interview With Malorie Shmyr

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

After just one visit to  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 and in photographs. I have had the honour of knowing Malorie for almost four years now and have had the pleasure of interviewing her to get some insight into the life and mind of a working artist. 

Malorie on set at my travel inspired photo shoot 

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." 

Q: Where does your inspiration come from? A: 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.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your art? A: 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 hope is to inspire. Even if I don't sell I piece, if I inspire someone that's ok.  

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

Malorie painting in her sun-drenched studio

In the last year, Malorie has directed and shot countless photo shoots for local designers, hairstylists, magazines (check out her spread in the Oct/Nov 2013 Canadian Cowboy Country Magazine), and friends (including me!).

One warm Sunday afternoon, Malorie took some beautiful shots 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 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 in to 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 in to 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 can not imagine — I won't — live any other way!" 

I couldn't agree more!  

Soft Spot: An Art Installation at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women in Edmonton, Alberta

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

While walking between buildings at a local hospital (don't worry, I'm fine, was just visiting a friend — who is also fine) I happened to look up and was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a huge yellow beam holding, what looked like, a steel nest over my head. 

I am pretty sure that I startled one of the patients I was passing, as I suddenly pulled out my phone to snap some pictures and then frantically (I was running late) tried to locate some sort of plaque so I could find out what it was and who created it.  

SoftSpot, 2010             Liz Magor and Wendy Coburn

SoftSpot, 2010             Liz Magor and Wendy Coburn

It turns out that the hospital (the Royal Alexandra in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) held a national art competition to find the perfect piece to fill this very courtyard,  and this is the work that won! 

Completed in 2010, SoftSpot is the work of award-winning Canadian artists Liz Magor and Wendy Coburn. It is created out of stainless steel ribbon and a solid steel beam (as I had guessed) and, according to the plaque, it won because of how it "twists, tangles and bursts outward with impressive energy." 

The work is placed right outside the entrance to the Lois Hole Hospital for Women (fitting due to the fact that both women tend to create work that comments on the female's role in popular culture) which is chock full of art itself due to the belief that beautiful objects distract, calm and help with healing.  

The Piano: Where Art, Music and Alcohol Collide

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

Tomorrow, the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton is opening a fascinating new exhibit titled The Piano that will feature the contemporary works of 13 different artists all involving — you guessed it — a piano.

Dubbed by the gallery as their "loudest exhibition ever", the works are a powerful sensory experience as videos light up dark rooms, scores play on top of scores, and pianos are deconstructed or sit illuminated in the middle of empty rooms.  

Artist Dean Baldwin with his exhibit Bar Piano

One of the highlights of the media preview that I attended today was Dean Baldwin's (an artist from Montreal, Quebec, Canada) work Bar Piano. This quirky piece, created from an actual baby grand piano, is a fully functioning bar! It comes complete with live plants and a beautiful live canary named Crosby (as if it needed the extra quirk!). 

I officially want one in my house by the way.

The coolest part? Visitors to the gallery on Wednesday nights (until August 14, 2013) will receive a free cocktail (no, you did not read that wrong, I said FREE!) served from this delightful bar. 

Art, music and alcohol... what more could you want!?

I was lucky to sample a delightful cocktail from the bar, (I LOVE media previews!) served by the artist himself this afternoon. A concoction of prosecco (you know how much I love this bubbly liquid), angostura bitters and a sugar cube, it is well worth trying! 

If you are in the area, check it out and let me know what you think! Cheers! 


In The News: Hidden Images Found In Vatican Fresco

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome

According to the New York Times, atican officials in Rome have confirmed that buried under layers of paint, in one of the papal chambers, are what could be the earliest known images of American Indians created by Europeans. 

It is believed that the fresco was painted only a few years after Christopher Columbus 'discovered' North America, and — according to the director of the Vatican Museums — is "consistent with the descriptions that Columbus gave in his letters of the indigenous people he saw upon his arrival in the Americas". The figures appear to be nude and dancing (click link above to view an image of the fresco) and were painted into a work called Resurrection of Christ y an artist called Pinturicchio. 

Why should you care? 

These images were created at a time when history was communicated through art and not always the written word. Discoveries like this are literally like having a snapshot of what people believed or knew at the time. What is even more fascinating is the fact that these images exist at all... how many other lost pieces of history are hiding under a few layers of paint on walls all over Europe? I ALWAYS like a good mystery! 

The "Artport": Impressive Art Installations in The Edmonton International Airport

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

In the last year, the international airport in the city of Edmonton, Alberta has installed beautiful permanent art pieces — from local and international artists — in order to give weary travelers a way to orient themselves as they transition to a new place. 

kopperscape             Karim Rashid

From New York, NY, Rashid has more than 300 awards for his work that has included designing pieces for Umbra, and for the Morimoto restaurants in Philadelphia. Kopperscape is an installation composed of four elements — chair, chaise lounge, bench, and side table, with a performance stage built into the piece’s centre. These elements are made from fiberglass and painted in a metallic copper to symbolize the Canadian copper penny, and represent some of the region’s natural resources. The best part? This piece of art was constructed to be USED! You can sit, lounge and crawl all over it! Kopperscape is located in the US Departures Lounge food court.

Wings             David Janzen 

Wings             David Janzen 

David Janzen is an artist from Edmonton and, fittingly, has a studio at the city's old City Centre Airport Hanger. He is known for his landscapes that highlight the famous clear, blue, never-ending skylines of the prairies — like the ones painted on these old airplane wings. This piece is located in front of Gate 54 on the International and Domestic Departures level.

Old Man Mountain With Great Mother Bear             Jason Carter           

Old Man Mountain With Great Mother Bear             Jason Carter           

Jason Carter, celebrated for his soapstone carvings and beautiful canvas works, is one of the most accomplished and prolific Aboriginal artists in Edmonton. He even had a feature show at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games! This vibrant piece shows the timeless, all-knowing spirit of Jasper National Park's Old Man Mountain (anyone who has driven west into the park will have seen this peak), and a bear, which in Aboriginal culture represents majesty, freedom and power. This piece, and others by the artist, are located in the entrance of the US Customs and Border Protection area. 

Everything Flows, Nothing Stands Still (detail)            Erin Pankratz-Smith 

Everything Flows, Nothing Stands Still (detail)            Erin Pankratz-Smith 

Multi-disciplined artist Erin Pankratz-Smith has created a stunning 3D mosaic that used thousands of tiles (made of glass, beads, china, gold, unglazed porcelain and more) in vivid colors and stretches more than 30 feet! It shows an aerial view of the City of Edmonton and celebrates the effects of the changing seasons (there are a full 4), and the North Saskatchewan River, on the city's scenery. This stunning piece is located between the US Customs and Boarder Protection are and the US Departures Lounge. 

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    

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 every day 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 (This is a photo I took of a photo originally by Alfred Stieglitz that hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Fountain, 1917      Marcel Duchamp (This is a photo I took of a photo originally by Alfred Stieglitz that hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

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 all that an artist could hope for... 

Picasso's Woman In A Mantilla

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

La Salchichona 1917 — Picasso             Museu Picasso, Barcelona, Spain

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

This stunning work by Picasso is housed in the Museu Picasso in Barcelona. I had never seen any work by him like this before when I came upon it while walking through the museum one afternoon. The gaze of the women depicted is striking as is the difference between the finished and unfinished portions of the piece. I love seeing pieces like this that showcase the artist's process. It is one of my favourites by Picasso.