The front and back covers of the album. The coral pink and prairie plants represent many things, says Fidelak, including strength in femininity, beauty, and our place in the wider world. The photograph was taken by Regan Fraser

Fidelak nominated for Juno for album cover art

February 6, 2020 10:35 am
Kara Kinna

Terri Fidelak, who grew up in the Fairlight area, has been nominated for a Juno award for the album cover art that she designed for Belle Plaine’s Malice, Mercy, Grief and Wrath album.

Set on a bright coral pink background, the album cover is wild and beautiful and earthy, with drawings of different prairie plants encircling a portrait taken by photographer Carey Shaw.

Fidelak says that after she was contacted by Melanie Berglund with Belle Plaine, the process of designing the cover took about a year and a half.

“Melanie and I have been friends for quite some time, maybe 10 years or so,” says Fidelak. “I’ve done some work for her before, designing posters and t-shirts and such. She was working on the new album, and I was really honored when she said I’d love for you to be the person to create the visuals to go with this album.”

Fidelak says a lot of thought went into the album cover artwork. She says she worked extensively with Regan Fraser, who was the art director, on the project, and also the photographer for the cover art.

“It was a long process,” she says. “It took about a year and a half, from beginning to end. It began with a lot of conversations with Melanie about her songs and about the themes of her music and what she was thinking about when she was creating the album.

Fidelak works in many different mediums as an artist

Some images from the inside of the album cover<br />

“I started listening to the rough cuts of the album and hearing the song and listening to the lyrics. I paid attention to the imagery that was coming out of the songs for me. I did that for a long time and then I started doing research. I really wanted to include plants in my illustration, so I started researching plants that are native to Saskatchewan and what their specific symbolism was that I wanted to include. The snake came about in conversations with Melanie—she had a dream about a snake.

“It was a long process of creating imagery, and then I would invite her over to my studio to see the work. She felt I was on track for most of the work. There were a few edits made along the way, which is normal, but for the most part she really trusted in my vision and that was wonderful.

“I think the album is a lot about themes of moving through life and how we have stories that echo beyond our lives. Maybe we’ve had an experience with someone else and who knows how someone’s life is changed by any part of our own lives. It’s sort of about connecting those everyday experiences to the cosmic. To the sense that the universe is so much bigger than we are. Our lives are so small but also potentially so big, and there is a lot of emotion behind that.

“The plants are about specific emotions I was picking up in the songs. The title of the album is Malice, Mercy, Grief and Wrath. There is also love and respect and kindness and all those other parts of our lives. I was thinking about all those emotions.

“The snake is a symbol of duality. It’s close to the ground and it’s hard to pin down but it’s also going to shed its skin and transform into something new. The plants all have different meanings, for example, fireweed is a plant that is symbolic of transformation as well. The horse tail that I depicted is a snake charming plant. It’s got that idea that you are in control of your future or destiny in a way.

“There are a lot of deep layers when you get into it but it’s all about connecting the everyday to the stars.”

What does Fidelak want people to take away from the album cover when they look at it?

“I think, for me, it’s about bringing more beauty into our world,” she says. “I think that’s missing a lot in our world right now. I also think it’s a lot about feminine power too. The album is very feminine, with pink and plants, and it’s really soft and beautiful, but also strong and powerful at the same time. I would like to evoke that sense of feeling for people.”

Fidelak says she was thrilled to be nominated for a Juno award for her work.

“It was amazing. It was very exciting,” she says. “An award is nice, it’s certainly not why I’m doing what I’m doing, but it was nice to have all of that work recognized in this way.”

Fidelak says she got a lot of accolades from people who know her once it was announced that she was nominated.

“It was pretty exciting. I had my to-do list for the day of work that had to get done and that kind of went out the window, it was really hard to focus on anything,” she says. “I kept getting really nice messages from friends and family and phone calls. It was a very high energy, distracted sort of day, but really fun and exciting. I got together with Melanie and we did an interview together and then had some food and drinks, and it was a good celebration.”

Fidelak, who grew up on a farm just outside of Fairlight, has been creative since she was a child, and today she works in lots of different mediums and is involved in the world of art in a number of different ways.

“I’m primarily a sculptor. I work with clay and paper, found objects, textiles and all kinds of different materials, and then I also have a strong drawing practice through the years. Illustration is a natural extension of my drawing style,” she says.

Terri Fidelak with a piece of her artwork

“I’ve always been creative. I used to make things all the time. In high school in Maryfield, I had a really excellent English teacher, Lydia Fraser, so I did a lot more writing as a creative expression back then. I thought I would be a writer for a long time. I do actually write, I’ve been published a few times, but it’s not my main focus.

“I went to the U of R after high school and I started in an English Lit degree, which I loved, but then in my second semester I realized you could take art lessons. I didn’t even realize there were art schools in the world until that moment,” she says with a laugh. “So I started taking art and I ended up completing an English degree as well as a visual arts degree. It really got going for me, my art practice, when I was in university. I used to make loads of stuff and have drawers full of things I made as a kid.”

Today Fidelak works as an artist, and is also an art administrator with CarFac Saskatchewan.

“I have a very busy art practice. I take contracts a lot and do art projects in schools. I’m in my studio quite a bit. I’m also an art administrator, so I have a day job at an organization called CarFac Saskatchewan. It’s an arts advocacy organization. I’m program and outreach director, so I run mentorship programs for artists throughout the province. It’s a pretty natural extension of being an artist to help other artists grow their careers. I also run a business here in Regina called Silk Studio, with my partner­—it’s a ceramic studio.”

Fidelak says the album cover for Belle Plaine was her first project of that type.

“I had illustrated an album cover only, for another local band, back in 2013 or 2014. I didn’t do the full design for that, I just did the illustration, so this is the first time that I’ve been responsible for the entire album—the layout, the imagery, all of it,” she says.