A mischievous, wee imp named Montell will take over the Blake Library Gallery at the University of Maine at Fort Kent during the month of September.
“Montell the Monster: A Destructive Work in Progress” is the brain-child of author/artist Melanie Daigle. Selected frames from Daigle's children's book “Montell the Monster: A Tale of Monstrous Forgiveness” will be on display in the gallery. The exhibit will include interactive mirrors and “live examples” of the main character's destructive force. Daigle also will showcase pages from the book-in-progress, which she said she has been working on for “way too many years.”
An artist's open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, August 28, which just happens to be the artist's birthday. The public is welcomed to stop by the gallery to enjoy some birthday cake and view the exhibit.
“I started writing the book for my god-daughter Reagan about 15 years ago. It's time I do something with it,” Daigle joked. “Who knows when I'll publish the book, but in the meantime I can still share a large part of my life and encourage others to follow their creative dreams.”
“Montell the Monster” is about a trouble-making little boy who causes much mischief and ends up hurting someone so badly that he believes he has actually turned into a monster and thinks he deserves banishment from the community. The healing power of forgiveness transforms Montell's character, however, and he realizes he can be happy as a productive member of society instead of a destructive beast.
“I've read a lot of children's books in my day, and there are many out there which teach forgiveness from the perspective of the person wronged,” said Daigle. “I wanted to focus on what the power of forgiveness can do to the 'wrong-doer'.”
“'Forgiveness' is a lesson which I have had to learn over the years. I think most people have had to make that same decision for themselves at one point or another in their lives. Sometimes, offering forgiveness is relatively easy... but not always. I find that Montell is still teaching me the value of forgiving those who have caused me pain. I recently saw my offering of forgiveness transform a person. In a way, it releases them to make a change for the better; because everyone has value and deserves a 're-do' from time to time... but it's really hard to make a change when you feel the world is against you. It doesn't always work out, but at least you open up the door to that possibility.”
Daigle created the artwork for her book using digital imaging software to manipulate original photos and scans of objects. “I love taking an image of a random thing and transforming it into something completely different. I guess it kind of is symbolic of Montell's transformation in the story.”
For instance, Daigle took a photo of broken shards of glass and digitally altered it to look like pond water. She used objects such as zippers, button, and wire to create her book's characters. “I'm always on a look-out to see if I can make an inanimate object come to life,” she said.
Melanie Daigle was born and raised in Fort Kent. She earned a Fine Arts degree from New York University in 1995. Upon graduation, she began a successful career as a film and video editor in New York City and the District of Columbia, where she honed her graphic design skills – which she said came in handy to make “Montell the Monster.” After a move to Seattle in 2004, Daigle “retired” from film editing to write and raise a family. When her son Daniel was born in 2007, she moved back to the St. John Valley and opened up Little Daniel's Den, a children's bookstore. Daigle is currently the managing editor of the Fiddlehead Focus, an online news source which covers the St. John Valley and the area known as Acadia of the Lands and Forests.
For more information on the exhibit or library hours, please contact Gallery Curator Sofia Birden at 834-7527.