April 26, 2023 - August 27, 2023
The work in Big Energy is honest and is just what it says it is; filled with a particular grandeur and liveliness. These works propel authentic emotions and create reflexive responses from the viewer. Mickayel Thurin twists the textures of folk art constructed from yarn, thread, fabrics and textiles and then makes them mingle with the elements of fine art. In a do-it-yourself style, the pieces manipulate the foundational elements of art to create a big story that is full of vigor.
Thurin is a Haitian American who was born in Newport News Virginia, lived in the Midwest and now the East Coast, uses colors reminiscent of the tropical paintings of Gauguin and Rosseau but have more in common with contemporaries like Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Big Energy converts the colors of Kerry James Marshall’s works into the assemblage process of Robert Rauschenberg. The whimsical nature of such bold color and zany lines allows the imagination to soar. These works present portraiture in a way that vitalizes the sitter, allows the artist to explore the feeling in the room and causes the viewer to react.
The face is not only central to identity, but is also the primary vehicle for human expression, emotion, and character. The way the artist creates faces becomes a true test of the quality of the artist and a telling indicator of style. In the case of the works in Big Energy, the faces are less discriminant in physical form but more true of underlying feelings and identities. The lines move unexpectedly in these works. The eye must dart through and around the piece to put the whole thing together as if following the pattern of a spider building a web. The different materials announce parts of the story and character. Mickayel has been known in portraiture to tell the sitter they “can move around” because life is not static. Mixed Media can be a tightrope walk. The artist may aim to synthesize their environment in all of its bits and jots, but if the work is never given a home or a resting place, the feelings can remain unclear. Shapes and colors become the home for the works in the exhibition. This work is wholly modernized. It is just as informed by current times as it is by the art history that has come before. Many works have “tweet” sized aphorisms that have been weaved under the picture to help tell the story. A story of full of Big Energy.