FAULT: Michelle how are you doing?
Michelle: Well I just woke up from an apocalyptic dream. There was a big mushroom cloud and a bridge collapsed, people fell into the water. And all I could think about was how I could charge my cell phone.. So I’m just glad to be alive.
FAULT: Can you tell us more about your latest work: What’s Good, what were some of your inspirations for the series?
M: I guess, I was feeling bored about being blasted with mostly images of beautiful girls in art and media and that homogeneity of imagery. Of course, it sells but I wanted to spend my time working on something closer to my heart which in this case was rooted in African American culture, which is so inspiring. I find it’s representation in fine art to be largely lacking in inverse proportion to the influence it has on society and so I wanted to look at that. Often people ask me, rather suspiciously, why I chose to paint this series of black men, which to me demonstrates that intrinsically there is a standard extant which states that it is acceptable to paint, for instance, a series of beautiful women but a series of black men is atypical.
FAULT: How long have you been working on the project?
M:Approximately a year.
FAULT: Can you tell us more about some of the men featured in your paintings, how did they come to find out about your series and model for the paintings?
M:The whole process was very informal.. a lot of the men were strangers whom I approached around town. I met Lil’ Wayne and his intimidating entourage of escalades and bodyguards at the Berric’s, Steve Berric’s skate park in downtown, LA, he was charming and cordial. The rest were friends and friends of friends. There was at first a mutual sense of nervousness, perhaps appropriately, about portraiture in the home of a stranger but once they got to know me and my concept and I got to know them they were all really interested in participating. Turns out asking people if they’d like their portrait painted is a great way to meet new friends.
FAULT: What has the response been so far for those who have heard about/seen your latest work?
M: In general the response has been very positive and encouraging. one reaction which stands out in my mind was from an old-timer I met who manages youth programs in Compton: he said he couldn’t stop smiling. I thought that was just fantastic. I’ve gotten some curve-balls from galleries telling me the work was too “edgy”- that no one wanted a picture of a “random guy” on their wall. I  had to laugh at the absurdity and small-mindedness of this kind of a reaction from a “proper” art gallery. Others have been truly accepting and the good vibes enormously outweigh the bad.
FAULT: What do you hope the viewer takes from/ learns from What’s Good?
M: I ‘d hope this series in some way causes a reversal of learning- a sort of platonic un-learning of certain assumptions we have made regarding art and, by extension, life in general. really i just want people to feel better. if one could walk away feeling a little bit better about themselves and others, that would do.
FAULT: Can you tell us when & where the opening reception will be?
Friday, May 10th 7 – 11pm at Dilettante Projects 120 N. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles CA 90012