Meet Miss Teri, the classical street artist

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For most art enthusiasts who are not artists themselves, the process of how the artist has created the works on display remains somewhat of a mystery — one that will be cracked open this month with a solo exhibition by Montreal artist Miss Teri (best known as a graffiti/street artist) called Rococorrosive, opening Friday, Dec. 2 at Artgang.

Miss Teri’s exhibition will feature a variety of techniques including painting, printmaking and ceramics connected by a thematic focus on breaking the fourth wall to reveal the hidden truths behind the finished product.

“The idea behind the show is to kind of demystify the whole process of art-making,” Teri says. “In galleries, everyone sees the final result but there are a lot of steps that no one sees.”

Her focus on perfection goes hand-in-hand with the hallmarks of classical art. Craftsmanship and technique were prized qualities in the Baroque and Rococo eras — the styles, palettes and themes of which are Miss Teri’s primary influences.

“With contemporary art, we’ve explored and created new boundaries for art, but I like the hard work and skill that’s shown in classical art. I take references from old painters and give it my own twist, and I just keep finding new ways of doing that. I always feel like I might move on to something else but it keeps coming back to that,” Teri laughs.

Miss Teri’s neo-classical aesthetic stands out in Montreal’s graffiti and street art scenes. While angular lettering, bright colour gradients and photorealistic imagery reign supreme, Miss Teri’s style is distinctly softer, favouring pastels to render dreamy florals and Marie Antoinette-style portraits in flourishing, liquid strokes.

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Much has changed since the opulent excesses of Marie Antoinette, but one thing remains the same: creating works of both fine and applied arts from paintings to intricate garments continues to be labour intensive and often dangerous undertakings, requiring the use of toxic compounds, repetitive gestures and eye-straining attention to detail. The title Rococorrosive highlights the often forgotten hazardous nature of producing art.

“The ‘corrosive’ symbol is one I see around a lot in the studios,” Teri explains. “There are all these safety hazards, so that logo is just everywhere. There’s a painful experience that the artist goes through to bring you something that you can enjoy.”

This month’s exhibition is a chance for Miss Teri to demonstrate a wider range of skills than what’s possible in the streets, including techniques she’s been honing while working towards her BFA at Concordia. But it’s her ties to Montreal’s tight-knit graff community that she credits with opening doors for the opportunities and experience that have helped her develop her practice.

“In the graff community, we’re really motivated on our own,” Teri says. “It’s more than just showing your art, it’s connecting with everyone and growing and helping each other and feeding off each other’s energy. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing if it wasn’t for all that. I’m super lucky to be accepted in Montreal’s graff community — we do this among friends and it’s just fun.”

Though Teri has been spending more time in the studio and the gallery lately, don’t expect her work to disappear from the streets anytime soon.

“Once this show is done, I’ll definitely feel like feeding my soul with little naughty adventures,” she laughs. “Right now I’m doing a lot of school and preparing everything for the gallery, but as soon as it’s all done, I’m totally shedding all that and being reckless for a little while!” ■

Miss Teri’s Rococorrosive opens with a vernissage at Artgang (6524 St-Hubert) on Friday, Dec. 2, 6–9 p.m. and will be on display until Dec. 30.

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