This new group of paintings is called Second Nature because it depicts animal life reborn in the imagination of people. First, in the imaginations of the talented, anonymous artisans who created the original ceramic figurines, and then in my role imagining how to photograph, pose, and paint them. The paintings in Second Nature also tend to reveal some of our confused anthropomorphizing and guessing about what animal consciousness might be like, so the title works that way too.
These kitschy figurines have been found at flea markets, thrift stores, and garage sales. They are castaways from another time and though they have unknown histories they are imbued with nostalgia. I have placed some of the figurines in fantastic vignettes that are incongruous — a fish at rest on a mountain range — so these paintings are intentionally disturbed interpretations of the natural world. In light of the current ecological crisis, my subjects may serve as remembrances of life, never fully understood, that inspired the human imagination but are also disappearing as a consequence of it.
Melanie MacDonald lives in downtown St. Catharines and is an active member of the Niagara Artists Centre. She has participated in group and solo exhibitions in Niagara, Hamilton, London, Kingston, Western New York and Quebec.
Her work was selected to appear in Carte Blanche 2: Painting, Magenta Publishing’s national survey of Canadian painters. In 2009 she received a Trillium Excellence in the Arts Emerging Artist Award from the City of St. Catharines. She has been the recipient of numerous Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance grants.