A new work by MSVU’s Art Gallery director is on display in a somewhat unexpected venue: the men’s department of the newly opened Simon’s store at the Halifax Shopping Centre.

And it looks great!

Melanie Colosimo’s “Community Ties” installation was created in 2024 using manila and nautical rope.

Melanie Colosimo’s “Community Ties” artwork
Photo Credit: Nicolas Takushi

“My work reflects on the impact of the many industries that Atlantic communities relied on for their livelihood – fisheries, forestry, mining, etc. – and how the communities were affected and responded when those industries closed or changed rapidly.

Melanie Colosimo’s “Community Ties” installation
Photo Credit: Justin Creamer

For example, in the early 90s, due to changes in fishing policy and practices, many families found themselves out of work. This did not only affect income but was detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the family members and community. The outmigration of their dependents led to rapid declines in population, resulting in the closure of public spaces and services. Due to the time period, it was more often that the men, husbands, were the sole income providers, and the stories focus on the effects of unemployment on them. However, the struggle of the women, the wives can be overshadowed.

For this work, I am using rope to represent the members of a community. The different paths taken, the way they can connect, split apart, but come back together. When connected, they add more support to survive. The crocheted lobster rope is representative of the women in these communities. How they survived increased spousal abuse, alcoholism, taking care of their unemployed spouses on top of their existing responsibilities to their children and community. The crocheting is a metaphor for the complexity and interconnectedness of their roles within the family and community. Its addition makes it stronger as opposed to separate strands, but if one strand is cut the whole thing falls apart.”

Melanie joined the MSVU Art Gallery as its newest director in 2023. An artist herself, and a curator too, with deep roots in Atlantic Canada’s arts community, it was a full circle moment for Melanie: the MSVU Art Gallery was where she had her first museum exhibition in 2015.

Congratulations on this installation, Melanie!

Melanie Colosimo’s “Community Ties” artwork, taken from a wider angle
Photo Credit: Nicolas Takushi