Monday, April 20, 2015 at 12:06PM
Michelle Tanguay is a prolific and exceptionally talented visual artist from Detroit. We came across her work last year and have been trying to wrap our heads around it since. Recently, we had a chance to chat with Michelle, and we were fascinated by what she had to say. Make sure you check out her work here and support this woman!
First of all thanks so much for chatting with us, we are huge fans of your work. Can you fill us in on what's been keeping you busy lately?
Im really excited about a new series of paintings i started about a month ago, i'm still trying to figure out what direction they are going but its fun and its keeping me busy.
What's a typical day in the studio like for you?
Typical day in the studio starts with getting lunch with my Camilo (My mentor/best friend) across the street at Detroit One Coney Island. We discus what we have planned for the day, i get his opinion on some ideas and then i get to work. I usually have around 5 different paintings going at once, while i'm waiting for one painting to dry i move to the next one. Theres a model who i'm using in a few of my current paintings, she's absolutely beautiful, she stops by periodically simply so i can see her face. If i'm having trouble with a painting i might go to the library and take out some books, jump on the computer and look at some art blogs. I'm a bit of a recluse so I try not to leave my studio to much, i usually work throughout the day and into the evening. I might have a visitor here or there but most of my work is done between midnight and 8 am when there is minimal distraction.
What are your first memories of being interested in art? When do you figure this was a path you were going to pursue as your career?
There was never any other option. It's the only think i ever knew i wanted to do. As a kid whenever anyone would ask "What do you want to be when you grow up?" my immediate response was always just "an artist." and then the adult would pat me on the head and say "You poor thing." haha kidding.
What do you love about living and working in Detroit? How does the city influence and inspire you?
I moved to Detroit from New York when I was 18 years old, I was this troubled teen who dropped out of highschool and was just lost. Sure i wanted to be an artist but there was no fight in me, Detroit changed all of that. Detroit saved me. The people here saved me. This city lit a fire inside of me, everywhere i turned there was an opportunity to be had. The people here motivated me to work harder. Detroit is home to me, its this comfortable, glorious, chaotic, mess, it's the first place i ever felt like i belonged.
Where else do your inspiration come from? How do you develop your ideas?
I never know when inspiration will come. The most torturous time for me is after a big show ends and i try and search for the inspiration for my next body of work. It's something i can never force, it always happens when i least expect it. I have learned to listen to everything and everyone around me. I was having trouble with this new series of paintings and i went across the street to the coney island really late at night to get a snack and one of the cooks there walks over to me and goes "so your an artist? I LOVE art, I really love Patrick Nagel, he's one of my favorites." Although i was familiar with Nagels work i never really gave it much thought, but after hearing what this cook said I walked home and gave Nagel another chance. Fortunately for me, the cook has good taste in art and I can now say that Nagel is large inspiration for this latest body of work. The second I start thinking that i have it all figured out and stop listening is when i start messing up. Unfortunately words have never been by strong point, thats probably why i am an artist. So when it comes to developing my ideas its a journey that occurs on the canvas and usually doesn't happen with words.
At what point did you discover your love for working on such a large scale?
When I was studying at the College For Creative Studies I had this professor Nancy Mitter who was always telling me to paint larger saying "If you want to learn how to paint you need to paint on a large scale." I hated painting anything larger then 2ftx2ft but she pulled me aside and told me that the next assignment we had I needed to paint large. So i went home cried my way threw stretching this large canvas that was 5ftx6ft and then started painting. And she was right, i learned how to paint throughout that painting. That painting did end up flying off the back of a pickup truck and into a snowbank on my way to class the next week, but it was totally worth it. I never looked back and started paintings on larger scale after that.
What music do you get into while you get in to the zone working?
I listen to a wide variety of different music, a lot of my friends are musicians and Im constantly listening to the music they give me. Loco Dice, John Ryan AKA Dr. Disko Dust, Chuck Flask and Keith Kemp, My friend Kevin Callaway is an amazing drummer and he plays on tons of records, hes always sending me new stuff to listen to while I am painting. I like to listen to Motown, its what my dad played in the house when i was growing up. Whenever anyone is over i encourage them to plug in their phone and play something while i work.
Is there anything coming up you'd like us to know about? Anything you love that you'd like people to be aware of?
The redbull house of art is having an alumni show, im really excited to be apart of that. Thinkspace is having a show at Inner State gallery, i'm currently working on a piece for that show. And i'm excited for a few collaborations in the works. Im excited to be working with Matthew Franklin Jenkins on some experimental pieces combining his breathtaking photography and my paintings. Summer in Detroit always brings a slew of new projects, i'm looking forward to it.
Thanks so much to Michelle Tanguay for chatting with us, check out more of her work here.