A brief interview with 2016 Open Studio Tour artist: Michelle Dickson.


Michelle Dickson in her studio.

Can you tell us a little bit about the work that you do in your studio?
I work in sculpture and drawing simultaneously, allowing them to inform each other, investigating the same concepts in distinct ways. From the moment they are created, they have both a physical presence and a growing absence, simultaneously existing and deteriorating in form. There’s an ephemeral aspect to it. It’s fragile—like memory. My drawings incorporate both collage and printmaking. My sculpture is formed from a combination of found natural materials like driftwood along with plaster, wax, and oil paint. Using layers, I allow some details to come through while others are obscured and buried. I work intuitively without much pre-planning: I make something and respond to it, adding on and then taking away, building up and concealing. I’m comfortable taking risks and never let the fear of ruining something stop me from experimenting. This is combination of curiosity as well as a desire to confront and accept uncertainty, which is a core idea expressed in all my work.


Neither Mine Nor Yours, 3 by Michelle Dickson

What drew you to the medium(s) that you are currently working with?

I’ve been really enamored with using found wood in my work. I get a lot of inspiration from nature- the patterns, textures, and colors- the growth and decay. The wood that I ultimately choose to take to the studio strikes me as found sculpture. They have a beauty and presence that I could not create on my own. I never take something living, only what is already at the end of its life cycle. I’m attracted to the idea of taking something that has been alive, that has been through its own cycle of birth, growth, and death, and giving it a new life in a sculpture. I like what the history of the wood brings to the work visually and conceptually. I’m seduced by the grain of the wood- how it undulates when carved, and enthralled by the contrast of smooth sanded grain next to untouched areas of rough bark.
Untitled Mnemonic 3 by Michelle Dickson

What is something that you think is unique about your studio or practice?

I use a lot of different materials and blend them together in unexpected ways. I like to blur the line between where one material stops and another starts.

What is one thing you love about being an artist in Baltimore?

I love the warmth and openness of the art community in Baltimore. It’s a very welcoming city for an artist.
Untitled Mnemonic 1 by Michelle Dickson

What are you most excited about for this year’s Open Studio Tour?
I just moved into a new studio and I’m excited to have people in my new space.
Neither Mine Nor Yours, 2 by Michelle Dickson

Check out Michelle Dickson’s studio in Suite 19 of Parkdale Building 1, located at 3500 Parkdale Avenue! Her studio will be open to visitors on October 8, 10am-6pm & October 9, 10am-3pm.

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