We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Ohm and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Michelle, what makes you happy? Why?
There are so many things that make me happy and that I am grateful for everyday. Other than of course living and breathing, I really love making things with my hands. This can be in the form of art-making of course, but also cooking, gardening, or just giving my dogs belly rubs. My studio makes me happy. I have my collection of objects, my color charts, all of my art supplies- which is in itself a whole other kind of joy, and my closet. Even soft sweatpants bring me joy these days- I may never return to real pants. Why? I think anytime something can make me present in the moment, whether it is using some sense (taste, hearing, scent, etc.), it makes me slow down and just observe and think. When I am quiet, focused and in the moment, some of my best ideas come to me.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a collector of images. I rip them out of books, magazines- I take screenshots of films from both my computer and my television. Thank goodness my husband is also an artist, because I am constantly pausing to take photographs for future drawings or paintings. These images are usually some moment in which a female character represents some allegorical figure, stereotype of femininity, or major archetype. During this pandemic, I been attracted to images of females in film who look glamorous, even when distressed. In my current series, I am archiving hand written notes in film, in that the note carries the narrative. There has to be a hand within the frame, and it has to in some way stand alone outside the context of the film. I have always been attracted to text in artworks, even book forms like illuminated manuscripts or when the text is the work itself. With this series, I love that there is a voyeuristic aspect- an intimacy of reading a note that was not intended for us. When the paintings are displayed in a group, it takes on some kind of archiving system- I’m still trying to understand how it works as a collective body of work. Now, anytime there is a hand written note in a film with a hand in the frame, I squeal with delight, and pause and shoot it with my camera. It has become a game in my household. Professionally, I had the support of my graduate school mentors and fellow students to make my way into the gallery scene. Through studio visits and also being introduced by friends, I have had a few shows and been part of group shows in Los Angeles. My group of grad school friends have formed not only a special bond, but we help each other through making work, getting stuck, and also just showing up for each other’s shows and events. Otis, where I received my MFA, really guided us and taught us how to support each other. Going to Graduate School is the best thing I did professionally as an artist. I will be paying for the rest of my life financially, but I would not get to do what I love everyday or have the same art making practice that I do now.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
*I am imagining this before Covid I live in Long Beach now, but I also lived in Highland Park for a few years. Having taught all over Los Angeles, sometimes taking 4 freeways a day, I have such a long list of things and places to go to, so I will try my best to narrow these down. Eating: Eastside Los Angeles: The Village Bakery, Little Flower, Homestate Tacos, Cookbook, Cafe Birdie, Tam O’Shanter, Summer Buffalo, Proof Long Beach: The Attic, Rasselbock, Taco Nazo, Hambone’s BBQ, Bake N’ Broil Midcity: Mozza or ANY restaurant Nancy Silverton is part of!!!!!! Westside: Dear John’s, Sakura House, Tito’s Tacos, and of course, Label’s Table (a deli so near and dear to my heart) Visit: Huntington Gardens, Descanso Gardens, El Dorado Nature Center, the Velaslavasay Panorama, the Forest Lawn Art Museum + World’s Largest Painting, the Hammer Museum, Autry Museum, the ALOUD series at the Los Angeles Public Library and any of the older movie theaters on Broadway during Last Remaining Seats. Vintage Shopping: Long Beach Flea Market, Kaledoscope Antiques, Goods on Orange, Top Secret Flea Market, Vintage Junktion, and Junkology102 (on Instagram) 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?
I think all of my teachers have raised me, in terms as an artist and educator. I owe everything to all of them. My education at Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences was incredible and has paved my way to where I am now. All of my art teachers there, mainly Pam Posey, Vernon Salyers, and Lise Patt supported me by teaching me not only basic foundation skills, but also how to be visually literate. They helped me make portfolios for both Ryman Arts and the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Back then we had to shoot slides and hope for the best that they would be readable. They also taught me work ethic and that art making is a way of life, a true practice, in that it is embedded into your everyday actions. Thinking is also making; it is the work before the work. At Ryman Arts, a weekend arts program I went to reinforced all of these lessons and opened doorways to college programs and professional opportunities within the arts. This program was also life changing, in that I decided that Arts Education was what I wanted to do with my life. When I first started teaching, I was a part of the teaching fellowship program at the Armory Center for the Arts. Through the mentorship and guidance of Lorraine Cleary Dale and Meriel Stern, I learned pedagogy and how process over product is an incredible approach to teaching Art. I only hope that when I teach my students today that I can emulate the same love and encouragement, and honestly the same rigor and expectations that all my mentors have given me.

Website: www.michelleohm.com

Instagram: michelleohmart

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelle-ohm-5b76688/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michelle.wiener.58

Image Credits
photo of me standing with my high heel wall drawing- Amanda Keller Konya

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