Anna Michele | Issue Nine Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work

I was born in Long Island, NY., and raised in North Georgia. I received my B.A. from The University of North Georgia with an emphasis in Sculpture. I have lived and attended school in rural, mountainous areas for most of my life. I love the woods and don’t think I could live anywhere else.

My father and uncle are both fine artists, so I had always been encouraged from a young age. I would say most of my education came from their instruction, more so than school.

What do you think draws artists towards a more minimalist approach?

I believe that the lack of expressive content has much to do with controlling the viewer, causing them to refer to nothing other than itself. It also can be a way of glorifying the pure qualities of the materials on which it is created, color, form or space itself, in a way it had not been classically. Sometimes it seems like a rebellion in many ways, I do find that much minimal art today happens to be insubstantial, so completely void of beauty or expression that it’s quite meaningless.

Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work

I love classical art and stripping down the elements within those works that I find intriguing, the curve of an ankle, the bend of a finger or the angle of a chin. I want to glorify the beauty of the human form as they did during the renaissance. I studied as a sculptor during school and that gave me an appreciation for the subtleties of the body. I am also interested in the nature of the materials, I suppose that is what has persuaded me into the minimalist approach. I enjoy the tone and texture of raw cotton canvas as much as the shape and line of the human figure. Both in a raw state, unprimed and unclothed.

What art do you most identify with?

Classical, religious art is arguably the most beautiful in history and I find it to be the pinnacle of inspiration. It is the point from which all other art is defined. Peter Paul Rubens must be one of my favorites because of his artistic irony. The stylized treatment of his figurative forms is masterful and so intriguing- I could stare for days! He delicately paints these massive, fleshy bodies, contorted so beautifully, usually amongst a gory scene of murder or betrayal. On the other end of the spectrum, I adore the work of DD McInnes, a painter from east England with a Masters in Renaissance Art History. He creates these modest yet dreamy paintings of anthropomorphized animals reenacting historical and sometimes biblical scenes. They are conservative and earnest, a real treat from the pretentious art filling galleries and museums today.

Is there something you couldn't live without in your studio? what is your most essential tool?

A pencil! The most modest yet most powerful of tools.

What sense of feeling do you want your artworks to convey?

Primarily, I look to bring both the materials and subject matter of my work back to a primal place. I am interested in building a work of art that I could essentially create within nature, with cotton, pine, mud, and my hands. I thicken my paint to create a mud-like body and texture, drawing inspiration from God’s creation of Adam and Eve as told in the book of Genesis and John, He uses mud to bring forth both life and sight. My work is an ongoing experiment with the female and figurative form, exploring the timeless romanticism with contour line drawings. I’m looking to boil the form down to its essence, forming gestural figures, moving the eye from one curve to another, as artist Steve Huston states “beautifully and truthfully.” I am intrigued by classic Greco-Roman posing within a contemporary setting and inspired by the stylistic elements of Japanese ink painting. I look to create a work of art that is in essence, raw.

What do you feel the role of artists and photographers is in society?

To bring beauty and truth in whatever form the viewer may need. The nature of that beauty can vary from a quiet, still, impressionist landscape of a rainy evening to a portrait of woman doing the daily chores, as long as it is truthfully and skillfully conveyed. As Oscar Wilde states “If the passion of creation be not accompanied by the critical, the aesthetic faculty also, it will be sure to waste its strength…any element of morals or implied reference to a standard of good and evil in art is often a sign of certain incompleteness of vision. All good work aims at a purely artistic effect.”

Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects in the works?

I am currently exhibiting at Buckhead Art & Company. I will be exhibiting in Ft. Lauderdale this January and have annual art fairs with the Beverly Hills Art show every May and October.

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