Elements of the Human Psyche

Sep 25 • ArtNo Comments on Elements of the Human Psyche

‘All Sorts’ by Michelle Connolly
Friday, 9/28, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
ACME Art Studio • 711 N. 5th Ave.

FRIENDLY FELLOW: Michelle Connolly’s found objects dance on canvas with oils and pastels to create images indicative of the human psyche. Her latest show opens Friday at ACME. Courtesy photo

Since moving to Wilmington in 2007, Michelle Connolly has become a defining artist in the local community. Her sculptural portraits and scope of artistic influence can be found citywide. According to the artist, her latest series of work, “All Sorts,” is a play on words. The show features a variety of previous works, such as the simultaneously happy and severe character portraits—who have come together to resemble an audience—and a vast scale of several three-dimensional works. Various elements, both artistic and found, merge to create Connolly’s folksy, fantastical imagery.

Born in Ruislip, England, art was a continual part of Connolly’s life. A career in the corporate world took her to Sydney, Australia but her passion for art followed. “I work non-stop so there is a trail of paintings and creations wherever I go!” she states.

After relocating to our port city with her husband and two sons, Connolly centered on her creative life and started working full time at the local collective, ACME Art Studio, off 5th Avenue downtown.

Connolly’s canvases function as a visual feast because they emanate her personal vision and exude aesthetic vigor. “I go to work with a constant stream of ideas and creative energy,” she explains. “My process is playful and inventive.”

Though fond of oil paintings, she now incorporates a variety of materials to experiment with textures and mediums. The integration of recycled objects has become indicative of her personal process. “I am happy to paint and discover new techniques as I work,” Connolly notes, “and explore the accidents that occur in the creative process.”

Inspired by the boldness of outsider artists, her work displays an assuredness and a cohesiveness despite the use of seemingly random materials, like paper, metal and wood-things. Both conventional and uncommon, the objects provide a depth of visual and intellectual interest, as well as internal conflict. By utilizing oils and pastels, in conjunction with her doohickeys, she provides an opportunity to look beyond preconceived notions about what art is. Connolly takes disjointed elements and makes them work in harmonious unison.

“Friendly Fellow” exemplifies her assemblage production. Composed of written pieces of paper, an old book cover, a matchbox card, jigsaw piece and button, she then paints over with watercolor and pencil. Repurposing found materials and giving them new life adds validity, weight and a history to the work. Painting the portraits of animals and people is an historic art form of capturing life’s essence; Connolly creates new forms while embracing the past and the present.

Upon a superficial examination, people often describe Connolly’s work as a form of portraiture; however, she clarifies, “the subject is irrelevant—whether an animal, bird, person or landscape.” Her own interpretations become the focal point. “I see faces in everything,” she admits, though notes it’s really just a point of departure for the artwork—“a starting point for the experiment to begin.”

With a style possessing flat, two-dimensionality, bold color energizes every image and instantly commands viewers’ attention. The inclusion of two-dimensional elements give a ballast and presence to the portraits. Most people assume portraits need shadowing and other techniques to create three dimensionality, but Connolly’s combination of audacious lines and hues, along with her hodgepodge of items attached to the work, creates a pop from the canvas. Each animal or person captures an inner essence of who her “characters” are—their being. It also engages deeper elements of the human psyche which often escape human perception.

Connolly’s entire oeuvre effortlessly transitions from one piece to another, and her distinctive mien represents a high level of comfort within and as an artist. “Comfortable in chaos,” is how she puts it. “Each work feeds the next.” Embracing the unexpected, Connoly’s artwork has a quintessential uninhibited perspective. Though her acceptance of the imperfect arises, her art gains concise accuracy.

“All Sorts” will be on display at ACME Art Studios located at 711 Nth 5th Avenue. There will be an opening reception in conjunction with downtown’s Fourth Friday Gallery Night on the 28th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information visit acme-art-studios.com. The show will be on display until October 18th.

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