We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Jader and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, why did you pursue a creative career?
For nearly 20 years I worked in the corporate world crafting marketing campaigns, leading teams, launching new products and driving business objectives. I owned my own marketing consulting business and had the fortune to partner with several Fortune 500 companies. And truth be told, I loved being a marketing consultant. I enjoyed the challenges and the rewards of the business world. However, I begin to realize that the moments I felt pure joy in this work was when I was able to collaborate with talented and creative artists within the industry. They sparked something within me.
As my career progressed, I secretly and increasingly imagined a life where I could spend my time creating art that wasn’t subject to unanimous team approval or validated by the number of units moved. I just wanted to create my own art. Finally, in the summer of 2007, when the urge to be a professional artist was too strong, I took the leap and enrolled in the Academy of Art University’s graduate program for fine art painting in San Francisco.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
(There are two main things that your readers may find interesting; the fact that I’m a traveling artist for 2021 and the multi-layered, multi-dimensional process and presentation I developed for my paintings.)
In January, I put everything in storage and left San Francisco. My plan is to explore the United States, living in different cities with vibrant art communities for 8-12 weeks at a time and connecting and collaborating with other artists (as best as possible during COVID) to create art for the year.
You can follow my travels here:
My artwork has always explored transitions and COVID certainly changed all of our worlds at once. Transitions are often the most terrifying, exhilarating, painful, beautiful and magnificently enlightening times in our lives. Whether wanting or not, planned or spontaneous, willingly or forced, change came to all of us. These situations reveal pure vulnerability as we wait for the unknown to be revealed.
When I first wanted to capture the complexity of these transitional moments I developed a new painting and presentation process. The first step was to discover a way to capture the figure, the feeling of motion, the emotions we feel during these times, and in particular the feeling of falling. I found this in my models. Using trampoline artists, dancers and gymnasts, I photograph these models as they are jumping, diving and falling. Next came adapting my form of oil painting to enable me to layer on several motions and expressions into one piece. This solution materialized by exploration and chance.
Inspiration struck after painting a series of studies on vellum-style mylar and stacking them on each other. The mylar’s slight transparency combined with my expressive and slightly chaotic brushwork, allowed for a layered effect that seemed to vibrate with motion. This is when I realized that developing multiple paintings on individual semi-transparent, acrylic panels and stacking them in front of one another would allow me to convey the chaotically beautiful array of emotions these ever-shifting moments of change evoke. Today, my paintings are anywhere from 2-12 layers deep.
As I travel around the country, I’m interviewing people, compiling new photos in different locations and developing a new body of work that reflects this time in our lives when we’ve gone through significant change both alone and together.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When you visit San Francisco, rent a Vespa and explore the city el fresco! There’s a 49-mile drive that explores the city’s 7×7 mile pennisula and give you a great sense of the city. For a magical day, I’d stop at Bi-Rite grocery, pack a backpack and have a progressive meal starting with Twin Towers to get a fantastic view of the bay, ocean and city, scoot down to Ocean Avenue for a walk along the ocean, up through Golden Gate Park and over to Chrissy Field for a walk under the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Back in undergraduate, I was on the college track team. I wasn’t particularly fast, but I had coach from Nigeria that was training for the Olympics at the same time he was coaching me. There’s no earthly reason why I should have gone to nationals and earned All American honors as a freshman, but Bampson Fedipe showed me that with top-level coaching, anyone can reach incredible heights.
What the heck does that have to do with an art career? I had the desire to be an artist, but I knew I didn’t have the chops. So, I found the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, that had amazing instructors. They guided and pushed me on my very steep learning curve and provided a path to succeed. Some of those instructors and what they taught include the former LA movie-industry Illustrator, Craig Nelson (http://craigzart.com/)whose Quick Studies class made me learn to make decisive decisions and build brush miles while we created 4-6 paintings regularly in each class, Zach Zradle (https://www.zackzdrale.com/) who patiently helped be make my sad, flat images 3-dimensional, Carolyn Meyer (http://www.arthaus-sf.com/portfolio/carolyn-meyer/) who’s fearless use of paint and expressive interpretations fueled my curiosity to explore different ways to paint motion, Zin Lim who encouraged me to find and share my inner voice without hesitation. (https://www.zinlim.com/about) and Kevin Moore (https://artgaudium.com/artists/moore-kevin-3/) who challenged me to create images that elevated craft, connect with the viewer of today, and embed deeper meaning.