Contemporary Animal and Landscape Painter
Vancouver based artist Melissa Burgher is a contemporary animal and landscape painter. Her time living in different communities and working on various farms helped Melissa to develop a love and respect for all things sentient. She began painting early and in grade 12 was sponsored for art school. After art school Melissa spent many years in northern areas where she encountered varying ways of life, rugged landscapes and wild animals. From this experience she developed a love and respect for the wild and untamed Canada. While living and working in the north she owned horses and engaged with the landscape by riding in the snow or doing overnight hiking trips. She soon decided she wanted to do more for her communities and went back to school. She completed a psychology degree at UBC in 2017. In the past four years she worked in Vancouver’s East end with vulnerable families, worked in Ladner with people who have autism and was a recreation assistant in a psych ward. Melissa began to get more serious with her painting four years ago and has sold works across Canada and Internationally. She is currently employed as an Aboriginal Infant Consultants working with families and in schools. She hopes to try and make a difference for those she serves in early life. She often credits her artworks energy, strong colors and shapes to the experience and teachings from many of Canada’s coastal First People’s. Melissa is also the VP of The Surrey Art Gallery Association and focuses on bringing fun and engaging programs to the gallery.
Her work often focuses on landmarks that represent knowledge, and animals that symbolize traits and strengths. Her focus is to portray nature’s resilience to harsh and changing environments while also discussing ways nature can provide insight. She combines both plein air and studio painting to achieve something that is both reminiscent of the real yet strangely surreal.
My creative process over the past few years has focused on experimentation of both mediums and materials. Through this process of experimenting with different mediums I have allowed myself to stay open to new ways of creating. At present, the style that I have recently decided to focus on includes bright colors and strong shapes. My choice in subject aims to create a visual story between the creator (the earth) and its children (the animals and other sentient beings). I believe there is interconnectedness among all things and a language that can be heard if we listen closely.
The Indigenous Peoples and the landscapes surrounding me have shaped how I see the land and have taught me to respect and love all things. I aim to create art that shows resilience in nature and strength in the animals. In doing so I hope I can lead others to love the land we share and to look closely at what lessons can be learned from the creator and its children.