Wednesday, September 5, 2012

71st Annual Juried Exhibition: Mikel Elam

Labyrinth by Mikel Elam
The basis of my work is about identity, perception, race, and gender contrast. This narrative began for me as I evolved into adulthood and began to place myself within the spectrum of the world. Asking the question: Just how do I fit into this complex society?

I try to implement language and varying degrees of structure and deconstruction into my work and use the figure as a way of communicating information. I like to think of my work as a painted collage--a mirage of mixed emotions wrapped into some representation of the figurative world.

I don't always have the opportunity to work with a model so I use myself, photographs, and collected images that resonate with my thought process. The process is like making music or writing poetry. Sometimes I think several combinations of pigment and tools will work only to find an altered solution later. A lot occurs between the technical and my mind's eye.

I start with an idea that speaks to me. Sometimes I will draw out the concept on paper but I prefer going directly to canvas or board with brush and paint, allowing this action to be my working sketch. I am looking for spontaneity between the paint and other elements and like to incorporated different materials such as drawing tools, spray paint, oil, acrylic, enamels, and more. I also use tracings and incorporate images from previous renderings. The experimental occurs often. Everything comes together and the painting becomes a dreamscape to me.

Fluid by Mikel Elam

Rage 3 by Mikel Elam
I've been interested in the growing numbers of young street artists, even though I do not consider myself one. I admire their courage and their enthusiasm to put the work out there for others to experience. It reminds me of when I lived in New York and artists like Jean Michel Basquiat were bringing a new energy to the art scene. Street art contains a whimsical language which makes me smile. The characters they use are both perplexing and alluring. They break rules. The art itself is a fascinating narrative about the world of street culture, politics, and philosophy. 

I am also influenced by the multicultural landscape of Philadelphia. I was born here and know this city well. I've also lived in New York and California. Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the country but to me still feels like a big small town. The city has some very positive elements about it. When you make friends in Philadelphia, you just might have them for life. I've followed many artists throughout the years and they have all contributed to my education enormously, and for that I am deeply grateful.

I was born and raised in the Germantown/Mt. Airy part of the city and attended the University of the Arts (BFA Painting). I also took classes in New York City at the School of the Visual Arts. My first art lessons came by way of my late father at the age of four years old. Around third grade my teacher realized I had a special connection to painting and drawing and she allowed me to create monthly bulletin boards at the Kinsey School.

by Mikel Elam

Mikel's work is featured in Woodmere Art Museum's  71st Annual Juried Exhibition.

About Woodmere's 71st Annual Juried Exhibition: 
Woodmere's 71st Annual Juried Exhibition, juried by artist Alex Kanevsky, will feature works in a variety of media from 46 artists living within 50 miles of the Museum. Works were chosen to create a cohesive presentation that explores contemporary ideas within the arts of Philadelphia. In conjunction with the juried show, Kanevsky's own work will be on view in the exhibition Alex Kanevsky: Some Paintings and Drawings, and the artist has also selected some of Woodmere's works of art for display in Selections from the Collection.

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