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.