by Joanna Nixon
I first became familiar with Michal almost six years ago when I saw some of his work hanging in the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art in remote Southern Indiana and again months later at the former Ruschman Art Gallery. I am personally drawn to mixed media work and Michal's work definitely stood out. A majority of his work is on Russian Birch and varies in size from small square pieces to large rectangular and square works. Personally, my favorite pieces are those where he incorporates objects into his work or etches geometric shapes in his paintings, which I think gives his work a unique texture and depth. Most recently, Michal has been experimenting with incorporating various types of painter's tape into his pieces, which you may have noticed at a show last fall at Gallery 924 in Indianapolis. Michal's work is ideal for someone who likes mixed media or prefers wood as the primary base medium. His use of a variable color palate makes his work easy to incorporate into almost any space.
Now, meet mixed media artist Michal Lile:
What is your background and how did you get started as an artist?
Michal: I was born into a family of object makers. My mom is a quilter and dad had an interest in woodworking. As soon as I was old enough to be trusted not to cut my fingers off, I was free to work in my dad's woodshop. I can recall countless hours there making things, mostly these ridiculous little boats made of scrap wood that I would float down the creek behind our house. In high school I met Larry Hurt, an incredible art teacher who sealed my fate by convincing me that there was real value in all this playing around with imagery and ideas. I knew by the time I left high school that making art would be a lifelong passion.
What is your preferred medium and why?
Michal: In high school and college, I explored just about every medium possible, but always seemed to come back to working on or with wood in some way. While a few of my early professional works were in oil, I soon settled on acrylic. I like that acrylic dries fast, allowing for the quick building of layers on wood, which can then be abused by sanding or gouging.
When you begin a new piece or body of work what are some of your sources of inspiration?
Michal: I am most interested in the old and worn in terms of the visual and the new and forward thinking in terms of ideas. I am attracted to clouds, so much so that they are virtually the only recognizable imagery to which I have eluded in my work in the last 20 years. I am a fan of colors and textures--specifically, the juxtaposition of textures and fields of color. I am widely passionate about proportion, and spend countless hours pondering the correct proportion of various elements within a work. I am intrigued in space and time, science and philosophy, love and kindness, calm and quiet, and the human experience. I am in love with words, so many of my works begin with the title.
How has your work evolved or changed over time?
Michal: I have most recently developed a stronger desire to be less in control of my work--to be more led by caprice. This desire has led to new works that have been more challenging to my audience. In particular, I have been incorporating wall space into my works by activating space with dashes created with blue painters tape. While I did not start this enterprise with the intention of offending the artistic beliefs of my patrons and peers, I have quite enjoyed the reactions, both positive and negative. The most recent negative reaction was quite funny, with an old colleague saying that she wished to tear the blue tape away from the works. It was such a visceral reaction to some harmless tape. I was accustomed to watching such reactions to post-modern works of art, but never thought my modernist leanings would ever produce anything of the like.
Where can people see your work in person?
Michal: At the moment, I don't have my work in a gallery space so seeing my work in person at the moment is tricky. I have shown actively at Gallery 924, including a solo show last September and I had work in Butler University's new Schrott Center for the Arts this spring. I will have work up at the Indianapolis Airport in November, but that work will be past airport security. Individuals interested in my work can arrange a visit to my studio whenever work is not up locally by contacting me through my website or Twitter.
What is the price range for your work?
Michal: I have works on paper as low as $100. My major pieces, all on wood, begin at $300 and go upwards to $10,000.
What is the preferred way to contact you if someone is interested in your work or even a commission?