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Life and Work with Michelle Blade

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Blade.

Michelle, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve been a visual artist my entire life. Many of my childhood memories are of me, tucked away in a room somewhere, working on art, totally engrossed and in love with the process. In elementary school, I took after school classes and in pastels and watercolors. In high school, I studied life-drawing and painting at Art Center and USC on the weekends. After getting my BFA in Design, I eventually moved to San Francisco where I studied painting at CCA. Getting my MFA felt like an epic pilgrimage and I barely left my studio. I loved it. The immersiveness of making and thinking every moment of the day pushed me and my understanding of how I connect with the world through making to a whole new level. After I graduated, I moved to Oakland and opened a gallery to further that feeling of growth and connection to a community. I lived in the back, had a little studio in the middle, and built out the gallery in the front where I did heavy programming for a couple of years. It was an amazing time.

Eventually, I made my way back to LA, where my partner and I had our first daughter. I worked away, painting with her crawling around my downtown studio, dedicated more than ever to prove myself as an artist. After a couple of years, our young family decided to try out Portland, where we had our second daughter and many lovely growing experiences. As of this fall, my family and I moved back home to LA.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The path has been smooth and bumpy, which has been par for the course and fuel for the fire. My advice for any person starting out in a creative field, or any field, would be to devote as much time to what you love as you can. Listen to that inner voice passionately, don’t get too distracted by others, and don’t wait to make the work.

Please tell us about your business.
Formally and conceptually I’m endlessly inspired by the inescapable qualities of the natural world and how human beings make sense of those mysteries. I primarily investigate this through painting, using unruly inks, paints that bleed, and fabrics that challenge my control. Lately, I am in love with painting on satin. I begin with an image, usually, something gleaned from personal experience or my internal landscape, and then I lay down layer upon layer of water and medium. The result is a creative process where I’m dancing with chaos to the tune of this image I have in mind, and then something new emerges. At this point, that search feels akin to a spiritual practice for me.

Alongside my fine art practice, I’ve also greatly enjoyed working with brands on collaborations and various projects. I’ve designed clothes, painted murals, made prints, published books, etc.

Most recently, during my time in Portland, I started making utilitarian ceramics which I sell to select stores across the country.

So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well-positioned for?
I think the greatest opportunity women have is to live our truths openly and support one another. By claiming our lives and owning our experiences we can shift the historical role of what successful female artists look like. One of the greatest things the internet offers is how many different kinds of lives we can be exposed to. This normalization of difference is good medicine.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
National Gallery, Portland

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