Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the whos and whys.
Michelle Rawlings is one of the emerging Dallas-based painters we'll be able to say "we knew her when." She's one of a young group of artists working in this city who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and just years into a promising career, she's exhibited at the Dallas Contemporary, Oliver Francis Gallery, Hello Project Gallery in Houston, and several other galleries nationally and in Europe.
Her interests are not limited to any one medium -though she is a masterful painter - and each piece seems like an attempt to tell something to the viewer about the artist, like a gentle whisper in a game of telephone. And it's this elusive playfulness that makes her work mesmerizing. Her work is delicately obtuse, balancing self-portrait with obscuration. Currently, she is the (FEATURE) artist at Goss-Michael Foundation, where her work leaves you the pleasant sense that you would get along swimmingly with the artist.
Obviously you are a female artist and in the work of yours I've seen, there often seems to be something innately "feminine" (whether it be pastel colors or classic ballet recordings in your video art) do you think female artists see the world differently? Using "differently" in this context implies that there is a standard or default view defined by omission as a straight male point of view, equivalent to a neutral point of view. It also limits the population of artists to a binary when gender is fluid. I want to point out that there are a lot of men who are interested in ballet... from choreographers to dancers to critics to patrons to visual artists... and that a lot of men like pastel colors or wear pastel colors or use pastel colors to make art. I don't see any artistic tropes as being innately feminine and I don't follow the jump in thought to that being about seeing the world in a certain way. I also don't think that there is such a thing as a female artist point of view and even if I did, it's not my job as an artist to deal with that or discuss it just because I am a female.
You've said before that you find inspiration in childhood and adolescence, do you know why that is? How does that manifest itself in your work? I feel inspired by the aesthetics of school and childhood learning environments, and I guess in my mind those things subconsciously correspond to, or are indicative of, the more psychological troubling aspects of how you learn and what shapes you. I really like the overlap between the history of art through painting and the aesthetics of the classroom or children's educational programs at museums. In the learning environment, art becomes this really wholesome thing. It's funny to me because artists that started out being really offensive and unacceptable over the years slowly become emblems of warmth and hope.
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Your work is not limited to one medium, do you find you go through phases of painting for months and then video for months or do you go back and forth as you please? I go back and forth as I please.
Where do you seek inspiration in Dallas? It's nice to be around people I care about. I like feeling grounded and hanging out with non-artists or being around my family because it puts everything into perspective. I also like the museums here.
You're teaching at SMU these days. If you could sum up a sort of inspirational message you'd want to go back in time and give college-aged Michelle, what would it be? Your thoughts do not need to be corrected and your opinions are not wrong. And, although it must be traumatic to see yourself a decade later standing in front of you in the form of a separate human being, just disregard that and listen to my inspirational message.
100 Creatives: 100. Theater Mastermind Matt Posey 99. Comedy Queen Amanda Austin 98. Deep Ellum Enterpriser Brandon Castillo 97. Humanitarian Artist Willie Baronet 96. Funny Man Paul Varghese 95. Painting Provocateur Art Peña 94. Magic Man Trigg Watson 93. Enigmatic Musician George Quartz 92. Artistic Luminary Joshua King 91. Inventive Director Rene Moreno 90. Color Mavens Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger 89. Literary Lion Thea Temple 88. Movie Maestro Eric Steele 87. Storytelling Dynamo Nicole Stewart 86. Collaborative Artist Ryder Richards 85. Party Planning Print maker Raymond Butler 84. Avant-gardist Publisher Javier Valadez 83. Movie Nerd James Wallace 82. Artistic Tastemakers Elissa & Erin Stafford 81. Pioneering Arts Advocates Mark Lowry & Michael Warner 80. Imaginative Director Jeremy Bartel 79. Behind-the-Scenes Teacher Rachel Hull 78. Kaleidoscopic Artist Taylor "Effin" Cleveland 77. Filmmaker & Environmentalist Michael Cain 76. Music Activist Salim Nourallah 75. Underground Entrepreneur Daniel Yanez 74. Original Talent Celia Eberle 73. Comic Artist Aaron Aryanpur 72. Classical Thespian Raphael Parry 71. Dance Captain Valerie Shelton Tabor 70. Underground Culture Mainstay Karen X. Minzer 69. Effervescent Gallerist Brandy Michele Adams 68. Birthday Party Enthusiast Paige Chenault 67. Community Architect Monica Diodati 66. Intrepid Publisher Will Evans 65. Writerly Wit Noa Gavin 64. Maverick Artist Roberto Munguia 63. Fresh Perspective Kelsey Leigh Ervi 62. Virtuosic Violinist Nathan Olson href="http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/mixmaster/2014/09/100_dallas_creatives_open_classical.php" target="_blank"> 61. Open Classical's Dynamic Duo Mark Landson & Patricia Yakesch