“I guess you can see that I have a bit of a theme about preservation”
It’s hard to know where to start describing the artistic practices of Melissa Parrott, aka msmediafrenzy, aka dj mediafrenzy. And what a frenzy: she’s got a hand in painting, photography, tapestry, filmmaking, book illustration, graphic design, zine production, video of dawn breaking on a northern Ontario lake . . . And then there’s her musical side, spinning and mashing vinyl tracks, and hosting the CHRW mediafrenzy Fridays show, where she tackles social justice issues in between playing righteous tunes. Trying to put a handle on her creative force and métier would be like trying to nutshell how the fundamental forces of physics, the elementary particles of matter, come together in a Unified Field Theory (it ain’t happened yet.) Thankfully, Parrot, in a quick tour, does somehow manage to communicate just how her protean energies are expressed and relate in her show Unified Fields, at East Village Art Cooperative (EVAC) until the end of October.
Let’s start with an intriguing photograph. What are we looking at?
It’s a photograph of an old rotted log, and growing out of that log is a tiny tree seedling. It’s only one inch tall, about the size of my pinky finger, with drops of dew on every single branch that almost overtakes the entire spindle of the pine needle. I really like this picture; it shows the value that the dead growth has, that it isn’t worthless or useless, that it brings forth new life, it’s part of a cycle that we might not notice in these plants. It was taken in Peterborough County. The death of the one tree sustains the life of the new growth.
This enchanting forest image: it’s called Escarpment Bliss.
That’s a bit of a riff on Sarah Harmer’s Escarpment Blues song, or tribute. It’s taken on the escarpment near Milton, Ontario. I got this one printed at the tail end of last winter, which was a brutal one, and when I finally got to put it up on my wall . . . it’s brought me so much joy. Every time I look at it, it brings a smile to my face. I guess you can see that I have a bit of a theme about preservation.
This photo is near my favourite camping spot, near a place called Bottle Lake. It’s Crown land so anyone’s allowed to go camp there. It’s in the Kawartha Lakes area. It’s a picture of rapids and stream, shot in long exposure to soften the water.
Looks like you can chill your feet off nicely there. And here we have some interesting cat pics.
This is my cat Fiona. It’s a close up of her eyeball, which is a beautiful opal- looking . . . well, it almost looks like the universe in her eye.
Incredible detail in the eyeball, a swirl of colors, psychedelic — and then there’s a little window reflection in there too. And over here in the corner?
I have a few posters, some for various festivals I was involved in the last couple of years. This is a poster for Ladyfest that I did a few years ago, five years in a row in fact, but I stopped doing it this year. It became a little overwhelming and I wanted to focus a little bit more on my own arts. I wanted to be a little bit selfish just because I had put so much into promoting other people’s music and art over the years that I felt I was neglecting myself. And then these are some posters promoting my DJ work at the APK and other venues.
You’ve made some kid’s books too.
Yes this one, I was commissioned by a woman, she contacted me and said she had written the story but needed some illustrations for it so I illustrated this book. It’s about life on the farm, and I hand bound the book as well. Farmer Judy, it’s by Victoria Anne Comartin.
And you make gift cards.
They are all done on recycled paper, which is great. I got a local printer in town to stock me up with recycled paper and they’re all based on my photographs. This one features an owl which I shot in Wales. They have a falconry in the Cardiff Castle in Wales and I was just hanging out there.
And now, because you can’t find enough ways to be creative . . .
This is a crochet, but I call it a tapestry. It was years in the making, because I would bring it once a week to a knitting group, where I’d finish about one row, each row would take an hour, but there’d be chatting and the dim lighting in the coffee shop, so I’d end up having to take some out and do it again. It’s called the Tree of Life.
How did you get inspired to do this mixed-media piece, Beehave?
I did the background first and then I stenciled on the beehive pattern, then I drew the bees actually while I was sitting here watching a music show in this very room. Now, I should’ve used beeswax, but I wanted it to really shine and look wet, so I used fiberglass resin so it looks like honey dripping down, it still looks sticky and wet to the touch. I put the bees on some cardboard so that they are on a different plane than the painting, and they are at different levels so some are closer to you and some are further away, they are different sizes so you get a sense of perspective and it feels like the bees are swarming around you. The big ones have actual pollen on their legs.
Bees need all the attention we can give them these days.
Yes, they are having some real hard times. So once again, that ties into the preservation aspect of a lot of my work with nature. And that’s also why I picked the name Unified Fields for my show. Everything is connected and that’s what unified fields represents — the theory of everything.
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