The foundation of every painting I’ve ever been drawn to is never just the surface imagery. It’s the layers underneath which tells me the real story. Certainly the surface layer is important. Yet it’s the infrastructure which give it a certain gravitas. For me life is very similar. Nothing is as it seems. We see this in the world. Numerous components to explain every occurrence.
The single common thread between all of us is, we breathe, we eat, we need sleep and we occasionally love. Yet somehow we create these categories which separate us. As a child I did not know I was different from anyone else. One day I discovered the system of caste.
As a visual artist and as a human; I am concerned with evolution. A place of equal negotiations. We are all aware of inequalities. Many want to do something about it. A few don’t. We protest, we march, we knock on doors for change.
My personal mission is to bring imagery to art which has not been understood or embraced by American culture. Perhaps this has happen because of my ancestors arriving as slaves. My work is a narrative about The Invisibles. Art, culture, people marginalized. Trivialized as less important. We can repair this. It’s just a lesson in another’s background. Our history. Our beliefs. Our practices. No different in how we learn to enjoy so many varying cuisines in this nation. It was introduced to us. We recognize its flavor and eventually we enjoy it for its differences.
This series is seen through the lens of a person of color. My vision as a creative is unique to my experiences. Many of these paintings are based on memory. My source materials have often been worn torn old photographs. The painting begins where the photo left off. Much of the imagery is reimagined. A space of time recaptured yet seen through the eyes of a person who lives now.
I am a visual storyteller. I also like to write. I am also a dreamer. I love all of the art forms. Music, film, dance are mediums which convey messages. Mirroring so many of life’s issues. I think this best describe the approach in my art practice.
I generally work in mixed medium. The possibilities are endless in mixing materials. It allows me the freedom to explore contrasting thoughts. The collage and found objects occasionally used are through an intuitive process. I like to think it allows my language to speak in both a formal and informal way. I would like viewer to engage the work. To feel perhaps many things in the same moment. Much like life. Perhaps walking away curious to know more. This is the beginning steps in opening our minds to a new more inclusive world. Of course through art all things are possible.
Mikel Elam Biography
The Primal Elements of Love, acrylic, flashe, paint markers on canvas, 40" x 30"
The Outsider, oil, acrylic, collage, paint markers on canvas, 30" x 40"
Brooklyn 1944, oil, acrylic, collage, paint markers on canvas, 36" x 72"
Antoinette, acrylic, collage, paint markers on canvas, 40" x 30"
American Family Too, acrylic, flashe, paint markers on canvas, 40" x 30"
Mother and Child, mixed media collage on canvas, 48" x 36"
The Other Side of Midnight, mixed media on wood, 48" x 24"
Joy, oil and oil paint sticks on canvas, 48" x 24"
The Neighbors Annual Barbecue, mixed media collage on wood panel, 48" x 36"
Young Man in Exile, mixed media on canvas, mounted on canvas, 72" x 36"
Guitar Man, charcoal, paint markers on paper, 24" x 18"
Lisa, charcoal on paper, 24" x 18"
Church, acrylic, collage, paint markers on canvas, 40" x 30"