Featured Artist: Michelle Waters
Michelle Waters was born and raised in L.A., where her grandparents
influenced her to believe in the power of imagination and the individual
change in society. While her paternal grandmother, an activist with the
United Farm Workers, introduced her to political advocacy, many of her
earliest memories are of making art with her maternal grandfather.
In college, Michelle moved to Santa Cruz and became involved with animal and
eco-activism, spurring her career in political art.
Today, when not making art, Michelle serves on the board of Works San Jose, an
alternative art and performance space, and helps rehabilitate injured wildlife.
She lives with her husband and four cats in the mountains of Santa Cruz. The
following is a sample of her work.
My paintings fuse my quite serious concerns about the environmental crisis we
face with my love for the absurd. I often wonder how we humans decided that we
are the smartest and most important species, given that we seem to have a predilection
for war and a bent for mass suicide. In my imaginary world, animals revolt against
the concrete-enshrouded materialist mess that 21st century life has become.
I call my work “environmental surrealism.” Influences include kitschy
portrayals of animals that one sees in mass-marketed popular culture, the nightmarish
imagery of Hieronymus Bosch, the writings of Edward Abbey, and my work as a wildlife
rehabilitator. My cute but naughty animals are having a good deal of fun turning
our superiority on its head by demolishing industrial objects. Grizzly bears
with jackhammers “restoring” a freeway, a mountain lion with an acetylene
torch decommissioning a bulldozer, arctic wildlife laying waste to a Hummer dealership
and animals tearing down billboards for housing developments are some of the
characters who populate my paintings.
These paintings deconstruct the assumption of human superiority to other species
by giving my view of what might transpire if animals took control over the fate
of the planet.
I offer my work as cultural resistance to ecocide.—Michelle
To learn more about Michelle Waters, visit www.michellewatersart.com.
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