Artist of the Month November 2017: Micah Bell
I'd like to introduce you to Micah Bell! He's a printmaker living in San Antonio, TX! (I'm excited because that's my old stomping grounds) He does some absolutely amazing relief printing, and I got to interview him this month.
Micah Bell is an artist, designer, and creative director. His art consists of paintings, prints, digital drawings, and other mediums focusing on a variety of subjects. As a designer and creative director he has done much work for bands in the form of album packages, music videos, and merchandising. He works out of his studio in San Antonio, TX.
What's your favorite medium to work in?
My favorite mediums are printmaking and painting. In my paintings I tend to focus on abstraction with investigation into line, pattern, shape, and color. With my printmaking I am focused on exploring themes and finding new ways to create an experience with the delivery of the art.
How did you get started with Printmaking?
I took classes in college. I had this incredible instructor named Charlie Morris in a few of my classes that really opened my eyes to what it means to work in a medium and how there really aren't any boundaries that can't be pushed.
What is the thing that you love most about Printmaking?
A lovely aspect of printmaking is the way the process becomes part of the image. The physicality of carving away at a block with regard to relief prints is interesting because there are many times the process can take you to a different place you originally were going for. A stray cut here, too much pressure there, and suddenly you are left with a decision: abandon the print or embrace the process.
I tend to plan things out more when I am printing images versus when I am painting and that definitely plays into where you land on the final image or edition.
Another wonderful trait of the medium is the tactility of the impression and the variation between each pressing. Much like every aspect of life, I choose to embrace slight variations and imperfections as a valuable part of the process.
What is the thing that you struggle with most in your Printmaking?
I tend to be pretty ambitious in terms of project scope and sometimes let that work against me and I find myself stymied by that same ambition.
Lately I've been disregarding those barriers and just putting work down.
Is printmaking/art what you do full-time?
Not currently. Pursuing art in your "off-time" definitely becomes a big part of the process as your are limited in your hours and have to "make them count". We'll will see where this great road leads, but the discipline developed in having a small amount of time is not something I will regret.
You shared a few pieces with us today. Can you tell us a bit about the featured pieces?
The Membership - Art Collection (whole) edition of 100 The Membership is a collection of art prints I have created, and writings others have submitted, based on the fiction of author and poet Wendell Berry. I wanted to create a series of prints that borrow from the ideas of the books and celebrates his incredible work.
The project took on a life of its own and really became something unique. Lately I've been interested in the way art is distributed, collected, and experienced. Something I really care about is making art accessible to everyone, not just those that already collect.
An underlying objective with The Membership project was to make a sort of collection that could be experienced in a number of ways. The most obvious and easy way to experience the collection is just to place it on your coffee table or bookshelf and open the box every now and then to read the writings and look at the prints. Because of the tactile qualities of the paper and ink, this is definitely not the kind of collection that you feel like you have to frame to enjoy.
These two prints are part of The Membership project. I chose these two books to exist in a sort of duality. In the books we experience loss, tragedy, delight. We see both literal and figurative storms and floods that cause us to think beyond ourselves and beyond our lives. That's when I had the idea to translate two of my favorite art pieces by Bernini - The Damned Soul and The Blessed Soul. These busts offer a starting point for thought on representation of feelings towards the beyond. They are interwoven with lightning and waves to bring us back to the books and nature.
A few of the prints in The Membership project are more obviously linked to moments in the books. My favorite of Wendell Berry's fiction is The Member of Old Jack. In the book we see this character moving through time in his later years creating this fluid sense of reality that is both here and there and neither here nor there. How does one deal with a past lost in flames or with a body that is showing its age? How is one remembered compared to how they should be remembered?
I have interviewed many authors and artists about Wendell Berry and most of them mention his book "Jayber Crow" as a sort of entry point to his work. In this print I decided to split up three moments of the story into this triptych of symbols that represent key changes in his journey. From an unlocking from a metaphorical prison to a reflective look in a mirror at a dance party to a final place, a sanctuary.
Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?
The Membership collection is directly linked to the work of Wendell Berry, but is the foundation project for a much larger body of work that explores the evolution of these ideas. More projects are already in the next stages of development.
So where can people find you and your work online?
A big thank you again to Micah Bell for interviewing with us! I'm excited to see this type of work. Art that is tangible and meant to be held! It's amazing!
Thank you, our readers, for taking time out of your day and sharing in Micah's art and perspective! Please leave a comment with your thoughts and get a discussion going! This is a wonderful opportunity to bring some minds together!
If you're interested in being a featured artist, contact me at JustPrintmaking@gmail.com
I feature a new artist every month through an interview process similar to this.