While visiting Michael Alan during his artist residency at NOoSPHERE Arts last November, I was immediately taken by the warmth and positive energy emanating from him and his artwork. Drawings and signs (with declarations to stay positive) were pinned up all over the walls and sculptures and various gadgets littered the floor. The most fascinating thing though was Michael’s ability to multi-task; we were engaged in a deep conversation about life, trials, overcoming hardship and finding unity and positivity through art, and all the while Michael continued to draw his elegant lines and figures – placing as much focus on his artwork as on his visitor.
Having recently suffered a spinal injury from an accident and botched surgery attempts, Michael’s movement was quite limited and it was clear that he was under quite a lot of pain. And yet he persevered; whether helping his parents out on Staten Island after their home was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy or putting on art performances lasting the whole day to raise money for victims of Sandy, it became clear that this artist is absolutely unstoppable. While his psychedelic “Living Installation” art performances are all the rage in NYC, I interviewed the artist to learn more about his artwork itself ahead of his benefit show on January 19th 2013 at NOoSPHERE Arts.
NYC-APS: When did you begin drawing? Can you remember the first piece that you completed?
MA: I think the question is when did I begin living as a person. I was kicked out of kindergarten for drawing dicks all over the school. I didn’t know any other kids or really anyone, just my mom and dad and was not allowed outside due to how dangerous it was in NY at that time. We had no money and my natural instinct was to make, and make everything! My mom is a writer, so we made stuff together and worked on a kids book together. The first thing I can think of completing was when I burned all my muscle men (cheap toys) together into one big mess of a sculpture, it was actually very similar to my sculptures now.
NYC-APS: Wow! What a story. What process do you go through when beginning an artwork – whether sculpture, drawing, etc?
MA: I just keep going, I make make make make. My studio is my chest, my pens are in my pocket. I work/make all day, everyday, all night. This rhythm becomes natural. The way art should be, natural and raw – no prejudice and staying open to all options. All color, no color, people, music, jokes, hugs, thugs and bugs. Art art art fuck the devil.
NYC-APS: When I was visiting you at NOoSPHERE for your residency in November, you were working with a live model. Are most of your works based on physical models or rather more on mental constructs?
MA: I think more in fluid work pace. I work from everything, mash it up and put it back together. So in English, for example I start with a friend or model, tree, my mind, let it rest for a while then add on at a different time. Then the work becomes more about time. In a sense compacting time, some of the works can take 7 years, through a period of stop and go.
NYC-APS: The name of your upcoming exhibition is “Coming Back to Life” – what meaning does this title have for you?
MA: In a general way it is for everyone, we all go through spells and have many chances to come back, my work is inspired on people rising up. For me I got pretty sick and injured this last year, from a itense open back surgery, with a serious brain trauma, and many many doctors over prescribing medicines to almost pasing. I got a second chance Still dealing with pain, but working through pain. Im using the back space, my residence, and NOoSPHERE Arts are turing it into a 2 month exhibit, a work in process. A healing bubble!
NYC-APS: You’ve exhibited all over NYC – from Chelsea to the Lower East Side – which borough resonates more with you and your artwork?
MA: I am happy with my gallery Gasser Grunert in Chelsea; it’s a small family, much love in the space!
“It has gone” artwork by Michael Alan.
NYC-APS: What’s the one art supply/tool that you could not live without?
MA: My hands.
NYC-APS: Art plans for 2013?
MA: To live one day at a time, the future is at the end of this question.
- NOoSPHERE Arts Michael Alan’s “Coming Back To Life” Exhibition. Opens January 19th 2013, 7-11pm.