Ever since I first learned of Michelle Weinberg during the DWNWN Art Days I’ve been obsessively reading her blog, watching her videos and uncovering as much of her works and projects as could find anywhere and everywhere on the web. As a woman and art enthusiast I have become a huge admirer of her work. Recently, I contacted her to uncover more of what she has been working on and inquire on what drives, inspires and motivates her artwork.
We’ve told you before and we’ll tell you again, Michelle Weinberg is a badass chick on a mission! (See: GIRLS DO IT BETTER). She currently has her design work on display at ‘Inventory Archive’ and is showcasing a storefront installation in the Alfred Dupont Building through the hustle and bussle of Basel up until January 7th. Although mega busy with projects, exhibitions, and traveling the world, Michelle took some time to talk to us about ‘Inventory Archive’ and ‘Shelf Life'; two must see exhibitions this art season!
“Inventory Archive is a kind of “greatest hits” of the Inventory project – curated by Thais Fontenelle. It is the first presentation in the new space of the Security Building, where her partners, Lemon Yellow designers, are now installed. It’s a fantastic space, and really links the statements made by design objects to a spectacular architecture. Downtown Miami has such a classic urban feeling that is easy to overlook when you think of Miami. But it had a heyday when it functioned as a real center, and I think that is on its way to a revival.” Michelle Weinberg
“For Inventory Archive, my rug Stella (in a smaller sample size) is on view. This rug is hand-knotted of wool and silk, made in Nepal, and GoodWeave certified free of child labor. All the images for my rugs come out of my painting practice somehow.”
What fascinates/draws you to Arabic design and architecture?
“Arabic calligraphy is mesmerizing pattern as well as repeated poetry. I love the combined effect of decoration/message/architecture. I’ve been drawn to Persian miniature painting since I was a child, and the ceramic tile tradition in Arabic architecture is so intoxicating – color, line, space.”
“Hard to resist! I’ve begun a series of tiles with texts that repeat banal messages from American consumer culture: “Very Good”, “Easy Money”, “Free Time”, etc. An architectural material that repeats mantras of instant gratification.”
How and why do you choose materials?
“Artisanal, handmade manufacture is most alive to me. Textiles, tiles, mosaic. I think these materials are the most durable, become heirlooms of a sort, and though I didn’t start out thinking of any kind of longevity or posterity for my work, it seems to be a by-product of all the materials I love most. As a painter, I create by hand. In today’s world of corporate homogenization of things, the vividness of the handmade just jumps out at me.”
If and when do you draw the line between function and creativity/innovative design?
“I wasn’t educated as a designer, and so I don’t set out thinking about functionality as a requirement. I don’t think about problem solving first and foremost. However, I do enjoy when things have a surprise function that demonstrates some kind of ingenuity or efficiency.”
“Shelf Life is a multi-purpose useless place. It is a devotional space where shoppers can absorb beauty, vitality and allure, freedom in a bottle. Pattern, color, and geometries obliterate the familiar forms of ordinary drug and dollar store brands – luxury brands too.”
Why are public artworks and installations special to you?
“I like to locate private experiences or rituals in public spaces. I think of the built environment as a large, immersive theater set, and all the backdrops are fluid and mutable, all the objects props that have special significance, that reveal human behavior, human drives.”
How does this compare with other mediums?
“I make paintings that invent creative new spaces to inhabit, and it’s a natural extension of what I do to expand into public space. It does involve problem-solving, which is a distinct strategy that has to be incorporated into my process, but the end result is extremely gratifying. Sometimes I do something because I just have to see it. Public space can be any shared experience of space – game space or online space as well. I always think about scale. Painting can contain public space and public space can contain painting, or a rug, a mural. It’s kind of like a telescoping thing – zooming in and out.”