Brainterplay by Melissa Pagliaro, aka “Felivalkyria”

Brainterplay by Melissa Pagliaro, aka “Felivalkyria”

This piece was part of the 2012 Brain & Mental Health Art Show, in the Public/Graduate category.

Brainterplay, Felivalkyria’s highly textured 16” x 20” mixed media piece on gallery stretched canvas, is her portrayal of the poignant effects of imbalanced neurotransmissions and negative thought processes, particularly on her own life. The common sentiment that “people become crazy due to brain (or chemical) imbalances” inspired her to paint an extremely simplified version of brain structures and events theorized to contribute to mental illness (under-activity of neurotransmitters, represented by the iridescent reddish-brown circles) juxtaposed with her self-portraits as depressed and anxious. Negative thought processes, demonstrated by excerpts of personal musings from Felivalkyria’s old blog selected from a period of relapse, are also reputed to shape brain chemistry. The text is obscured to illustrate cognitive distortion. The sheer abundance of “pills” inside each capsule hole denotes the need for experimentation before finding the one that works, since everybody’s physiology is unique and thus reactions to medication can’t be predicted. Brainterplay is the result of Felivalkyria’s desire to produce and share art that was not only personal but educational in a safe venue.

About The Artist

Felivalkyria (pronounced like “Feh-lee-valk-eerie-yah”), born in 1981 in Ottawa, is Melissa’s artist persona concocted from “feline” and “valkyrie”. Inspired by Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain in the early 1990s, Felivalkyria shaded ordinary objects like lamps and crayons in an attempt to achieve realism. She received the Art in the Park Award for extraordinary achievement, improvement and distinction in OAC Visual Arts. Felivalkyria gained her first professional screenwriting experience at 16 years old when her screenplay helped secure a $5,000 grant from Rogers Cable 22 to produce a Public Service Announcement about Youth Canada Association’s peer mediation, conflict resolution and crime prevention conference. She also has experience in arts journalism for Canada Council for the Arts and grant-writing for local artists. In 2012, Felivalkyria achieved two goals: (a) setting up, in her home, Melissa’s Destiny Art Studio, named after a beloved feline and to reflect her artistic journeys, and (b) displaying several of her pieces in art festivals, community centre and coffeehouse galleries.

Felivalkyria’s mediums are diverse and include pencils, pencil crayons, acrylics, watercolours and digital art. Recently, however, Felivalkyria discovered that mixed media might be her creative niche, for she loves texture and its ability to make her feel comfortable with spontaneity. Felivalkyria has a variety of passions for other artistic practices, including conceptual photography (photography which is focused on illustrating an idea or concept rather than technique or skills), cosplay (short for “costume play” – the creation of costumes and/or accessories to represent a character from media such as literature, television, film, video games, etc.), fashion design and writing poetry, short stories (including fan fiction) and screenplays. Felivalkyria gravitates towards portraits and stories of people and animals important in her life, as well as historical or fantastical characters and worlds.

More of Melissa’s art can be viewed at Moods Expressed.

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