Born in North Hollywood, California, Melissa Leaym-Fernandez has been creating art since she was a child. Her connection to Sri Lanka and her connection the USA keep her work balanced between shape, line and the color of these two wonderful countries. Leaym-Fernandez was raised by her mother, who was single, in an age when the choice of single parenthood was not popular. This element of Leaym-Fernandez’s life is transferred into her work, as she explores pachyderms of all shapes and sizes. The elephant holds such a plethora of interest to the artist. Exploring the familiar relationships, the shapes, and forms interjected with bold color, line and layers, similar to the life of the artist…and humans overall. The artist knows that community service is important and integrates this into her studio practice. Yet at the same time, the artist knows that the arts are valuable and need to be supported with this in mind. Supporting the arts takes courage, guts and money. The arts need to be a part of each and every community—large and small. She has worked in India for the non-profit, Rising Star Outreach, an organization that works to eradicate leprosy. She has served the St. Clair County Hispanic Council, working to teach exploratory art classes for delightful children in the summer. She has worked with the Cub Scouts of America, teaching art and being a leader. The artist has traveled to India, England and all over the USA to study elephants, watch people and absorb all that is to be seen. Looking at animals and people to see the light, the love, the relationships and the artist put that into her work. There is enough hate, violence and sex in the world but those elements are not in her work. Her work is easily enjoyed, understood and absorbed by the viewer. The work is simple and complex. For the uneducated viewer a fast glance gives a fast, pleasant reward. But for the complex viewer, who is a bit trained in looking at art, there is more to be seen in the work. Leaym-Fernandez presents layers in her work. Once just needs to invest the time to get the reward. The artist’s goal is to create art that is bright, happy, engaging, uplifting, fun and not saturated with blacks, browns and/or dreariness. Leaym-Fernandez is successful in bringing these elements to her work. The artist holds a Master’s degree in Arts Administration from the University of Michigan; A Master’s degree in Art Education from Eastern Michigan University; She also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Art Education—both are from the University of Michigan-Flint. The artist is married, and has three children with her husband. She is not apologetic about this fact, but rather happy. She is not afraid of the domestication in her life, or her art.
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