TPG: When did you first realize you are an artist?
MA: In elementary school I started a comic book collection and would spend hours looking at images of the characters and try and copy the line work. I remember two series of comics that changed my life and made me lock myself in my room and draw, Secret Wars and the Marvel Character profile comics. Secret Wars was an all out character overload and the Marvel Character profiles inspired me to develop my own characters and stories.
TPG: Could you tell us some more about your work?
MA: I enjoy experimenting with different styles, and techniques from detailed line work to free unrestricted movements that I incorporated into in my latest series “Monstro And The Kelp Kids”. I love to inject color and stories into my work. I want adults to feel like they are a kid again, where everything is new and exciting. I want children to get involved and be a part of the story and identify with the characters.
TPG: What is it that inspires you to paint a particular subject?
MA: I am inspired by the people I meet or have met, an experience from the past or something that comes to mind while painting, the ocean and my environment.
TPG: What artists have influenced you, and how?
MA: Keith Haring was the first artist that changed the way I look at things. Bright colors, movement and funky. Theodore Seuss Geisel for his amazing characters and stories that I have in my head everyday. Os Gemeos for their unique style, their ability to put together amazing walls and exhibitions while still taking it to the streets.
TPG: What do you do for fun (besides painting)?
MA: Surf, yoga, write…listen to music.
TPG: What inspires you to create art and how do you keep motivated?
MA: I love art! I will always love art! I am fortunate to have turned that love into a career. I am grateful for all the opportunities and encouragement I have received throughout my life. I am never happier then when I am painting, or surrounded by art, or talking about art, or teaching children about art. I would like to build a reputation and a legacy as an artist who is original and progressive and gracious and generous. An artist who is creative and daring and constantly exploring new styles, themes and mediums. I find inspiration everywhere and I am motivated to grow and improve…
TPG: How have you handled the business side of being an artist?
MA: It is a constant learning process. I try to ask a lot of questions, put what I learn into practice, and see what works for me.
TPG: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
MA: Painting, creating, writing, touring, teaching… Still learning and striving to improve…
TPG: What are you working on at the moment?
MA: I am working on going deeper with the concept of “Monstro and The Kelp Kids”. I am also working with The Miami Art Project ( www.miamiartproject.org) a community outreach foundation dedicated to introducing, restoring and sustaining arts education in public schools and child healthcare systems and raising awareness about the importance of the arts as a part of every child’s complete education and development.
TPG: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
By Michael Ashman
The artist’s job is to tell a story through art to keep the viewer interested and engaged. With the aid of her personal experiences as inspiration, Michelle D. Ferrera is able to tell captivating stories through her artwork. Some of her stories are about struggling with a change in the environment or adapting to a new situation. Her art piece now on display at Thumbprint Gallery, “Not Today, Charlotte!” conjures up feelings of being trapped or stuck in a dangerous alien environment. In the painting, the woman fights the web, and tries to tear it down with one heaving pull.
Michelle’s artwork is an outlet for her to work through her life experiences. What kind of experience does this work say? There is a present danger of the huge tarantula at the top of the painting. The spider’s web is draping down that creates a looming presence. The way she draws the web with different intensities of black lines makes it appear lifelike. The topless woman is not there to be beautiful next to the ugly creature, but she is the focal point to illustrate an extreme outburst of emotion shown by her flexed muscles and tossed hair. This painting draws the viewer into this woman’s effort to fight a problem that has manifested itself as a terrifying spider.
Michelle uses scrap wood as an unusual surface for her pencil and pastel drawings. The careful shadowing of the woman’s body and the convincingly real details of the spider are two examples of how she makes the artwork lifelike. The wooden surface adds a creepy effect to the spider’s web and makes it appear to be attached to the wood in a natural way. The simple struggle between the woman and the spider and the empty background leaves nothing else to distract the viewer from the main focus.
The title of the piece may also have some interesting references and meanings as well. “Charlotte” is the name of a helpful spider in a popular children’s novel, “Charlotte’s Web.” The name “Charlotte” could refer to the spider’s name in the artwork. However, this spider does not look like a small and friendly one, which is depicted in the children’s story. The title sounds more like the woman is freeing herself from the grasp of the spider’s web and she is in the process of tearing it down. In the end, the artwork functions as a story of overcoming a personal fear—clearing the mind of anxiety cobwebs so to speak.
Michelle D. Ferrera’s “Not Today, Charlotte!” is on display at Thumbprint Gallery in La Jolla as a part of the “Behind Closed Doors” group show. Other artists featured at the show include Matthew Land and Michael Mahaffey along with other artworks by Michelle Ferrera. The gallery is open to the public Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm to 4pm. The show will be on exhibit until May 5.