IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative- Michelle Muldrow


IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative, curated by Eleana Del Rio

This show features the work of ten Koplin Del Rio artists and completes the series of three IDENTITY exhibitions introducing the gallery’s artists to a Seattle audience. Curator Eleana Del Rio grouped these artists together because they share a common interest in pictorial narrative. They all invite the viewer to interact with the imagery and engage with the work in a manner that allows two narratives—both the artist’s and the viewer’s—to play out over time.

Featuring David Bailin, Eric Beltz, Shay Bredimus, Wes Christensen(1949-2015), Josh Dorman, Tim Lowly, Michelle Muldrow, Len Paschoal, Fred Stonehouse, and Yuriko Yamaguchi

November 3 – December 23, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, November 3, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #59: Michelle Muldrow


1. What is your ideal working environment? – space, music, lighting, etc.
My ideal environment has light. Space is nice, but having good light is what I treasure most and is most difficult to find when landing an ideal studio. I always have music playing, it helps me zone out and just focus on painting. My most favorite studios have trains nearby, seeing and hearing the trains puts me in a wonderful creative headspace.

2. Is there a specific motivator in getting you into the studio? – after morning news? coffee? after family is asleep at night?
Deadlines and coffee

3. What is your preferred medium?  Do you work on one project at a time or several?
I change my medium according to series. I pay attention to how the materials best convey and translate the conceptual and emotional content of the work. I usually swing between casein paint on clay panel and gouache on paper, but I have some bodies of work in acrylic. I rarely work in oil, since I prefer to layer and scrape and layer again, oil doesn’t really allow for the rapid way I work.

I always work on 4-6 pieces at once. I have found if I work on only one piece at a time,vI get too precious, I overthink. I like to feel like I am in the middle of a conversation, so working on many paintings all at once allows me to feel free and just paint.

4. Is there anything you would like to share as personal interests outside of the studio – outdoor activity, cooking, reading, museum/gallery hopping?
I am a singer/songwriter, so when I am not painting, I am recording, writing songs, singing and overall challenging the patience of my long suffering family.

5. In what way is your work a reflection of “tradition by way of ‘method’”?
Coming from the perspective of a landscape painter, I like to play with the tradition and history of landscape painting and push what defines landscape painting. Depending on the series, I factor in how it  is sourced (mapping? photos? interiors? exteriors? plein air?) the method of painting (architectural drawings? acrylic/plastic? casein/kaolin/object? classical painting styles/gouache?) how we perceive place and how we experience our identity in relation to environment  (interiors, exteriors, mapping imagery) then I explore how the images are displayed, (traditional mounted on the wall? organizing images using taxonomic schemata?) I suppose that is the best, albeit, broad answer to this question-I use the traditions of landscape painting as a departure point to explore what the experience of landscape and environment can be.

6. With the examples of your work represented in IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative, are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight into your artist vision to a new viewer?
In my last body of work, “In Defense of Home” series, my paintings ventured into personal narrative and landscape, exploring the homes and locations that I lived as a child. Because these locations were on military bases, not everything was accessible via Google Maps, due to military security and classified areas and I became interested in Google Maps as a portal into how we view landscapes, our own nostalgia of places, and  our own memories.

Soon after this exhibition, I knew I was planning to relocate to a new city/state, but I was not exactly sure which one (California? Seattle? Oregon?). In my practical research, I spent a lot of time checking out real estate listings and then investigating the neighborhoods on Google Maps. This modern experience is so different from how I  navigated new neighborhoods when I was a child. Back then, I had to learn my neighborhood through walking, biking, cars, but now I have this resource where I can “walk” down foreign streets and  become familiar with a place. And yet, the virtual experience is not the lived experience, things get truncated, places are incomplete, the perimeters around knowing and not knowing are still a layered experience of what is actually understood.I began painting these “mapped” environments as my experience with landscape was becoming more of a virtual experience and yet my knowledge felt as limited as these partial “maps”, I like that in addition to maps, I “felt” the presence of satellites, space. The technology that brings us these landscapes is also a layered process, from satellite views, to maps, to overhead street views and code…These paintings grew organically from my search for my “new home” and  my relationships with landscape and my computer. I did eventually land  in Portland.


“Blueprint/Imprint”, 2016, casein, graphite on kaolin clay panel, 16″ x 20″


“Search, Markers”, 2016, casein, graphite on kaolin clay panel, 40″ x 30″


“Terrain, Possible and Remembered”, 2016, casein, graphite on kaolin clay panel, 12″ x 12″


“Locater/Location”, 2016, casein, graphite on kaolin clay panel, 40″ x 30″