All at Once
November 22 - January 3, 2009
Opening Reception: November 22, 6:30 - 8:30pm
Michael’s latest body of work marks a dramatic shift towards an abundantly worked surface and the addition of text. Michael employs text to take a leading role in her work while continuing to command paint with large gestures, controlled pours, drips and slippages. Michael uses the filter of language, from film, music, literature and conversation to develop narrative and emotional structure. There are allusions to art, wars, relationships, philosophy and the kinds of roles we enact both public and private.
Her selections from French New Wave films, like Resnais’ films Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year in Marienbad, and Godard’s Weekend, reflect the passage of time and the malleability of history in the presence of danger, love, and art. While watching these films in subtitles, Michael grasped at the poetic structures of the language and the power in their new context of her paintings. The subtitle phrases relate to their origins, play scenarios in the mind of the viewer and often pertain to our current political climate.
Michael implies war, protest and dramatic change by using Hemingway’s title, A Farewell to Arms, its own title an excerpt from dramatist Peele’s poem. The painting itself exhibits the change in her work; her own painting style veiled mostly by a thick gray covering that reveals only the text. A series of drawings, Rescue (subtitles) is based on drowning and needing or providing rescue. While subtitles are a sort of life preserver in trying to decode foreign film, Michael’s resources are inspirational to surviving the basic loneliness of the individual.
The title of the show All at Once, reflects on the difference between paintings and the time-based works: film, literature and music that are her influences. A person views a painting all at once; in an instant, the duration of the experience is chosen by the viewer rather than by the maker. Although a painting is still, it does reflect time’s passage while building history. The history of Michael’s paintings begins with spray paint; she associates the air of the spray can with breath and the projection of spoken words leaving the body. The new work references abstract expressionism and the text-based works of Bruce Nauman and Ed Ruscha, artists of nearly the same era as her film influences. Michael’s paintings also maintain their own personal history that is continually being masked, surrendered and opened by the artist.
Maggie Michael lives and works in Washington, DC. Michael is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant and an Artist Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. She was a resident artist in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden's Artist at Work program in 2006-07. During 2008, Michael was awarded an Artist Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian and received the Trawick Prize from the Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards. Her work has been featured in At Length magazine and reviewed in The Washington Post, Art Papers, and Art in America. Michael's work is in international private and public collections, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, The University of Maryland, College Park, and the US Art in Embassies Program.
Gallery Hours are Wednesday - Saturday, Noon - 6 PM
1350 Florida Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20002