Briefly describe the work you do
My work examines the socio-economic gap that exists between the majority of people and the corporate/political apparatus that shapes our world. By scrutinizing and questioning the way these institutions perpetuate this gap and are presented to us by the media, politicians, and our peers; I am providing the viewer with a lens to see the world through. This lens offers them an opportunity to re-witness their world through an alternative perspective. The use of familiar objects provides the viewer with a common vernacular, and this allows them to more easily understand the works. Introducing elements of satire and subversion into the works enables them to deal with difficult subjects in a more approachable way. And, this understanding and approachability can in turn provoke the viewers to begin to raise questions of their own.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
Growing up in a suburb of Youngstown, OH I think had a big impact on my work. The area is known for political corruption, and seeing several of our local politicians go to prison while I was growing up illustrated what can go wrong in politics.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I always have a sketch book with me, so my ideas are not usually born in the studio. Being able to commit an idea on paper whenever it comes to me has extremely useful, and it allows me to be more focused when I am in my studio. My studio time is me time. I like to use that opportunity to forget about everyone else’s demands and focus on my work.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I don’t think that I thought that I would be using digital as a primary tool for making. When I was an undergraduate student I was extremely against the use of digital technology, and had no desire to explore its potential. After graduate school though I quickly realized that it was far more useful than I had thought.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
My work schedule can be pretty hectic, so I make work when I can in the evenings. About a year ago, I began setting aside Saturdays as a studio day as well.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
Probably the biggest change in my work is the form that it has taken. The main focus of my work has remained consistent over that time though.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
I’ve been lucky enough to have some great people around me that have had a huge impact on my. My good friends Barry Underwood and Sarah Kabot, both amazing artists, have both influenced me. As has my best friend, Timothy Harriett who usually acts as my conceptual filter.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
I would be interested in running for political office. I think that the position could create a very positive influence on the community.
Michael was born in Youngstown, OH in 1981. After receiving his BFA in Photography, from the Cleveland Institute of Art, he moved to San Francisco. While in San Francisco he attended the California College of Art, where he received a MFA in Social Practices. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. Michael is currently the Checkout Coordinator and Adjunct Faculty member at The Cleveland Institute of Art in Cleveland, OH.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.