Michael Velliquette Interview
Michael Velliquette is a studio artist. His pieces display contemporary sensibilities regarding the handmade, with visual lexicon he has developed in his works. Velliquette’s recent shows took place at David Shelton Gallery in Houston and at DCKT Contemporary in New York.
Who are you?
I’m a studio artist. I’m enamoured with the process of making something from nothing.
What do you do?
I have my hands in a lot of different projects at any given time, but I primarily work with paper. Those works tend to be glued arrangements of cut out shapes from paper that I have painted or drawn on beforehand.
It is a process I have developed for over a decade and have applied to diverse subjects and formal styles.
Where did you grow up?
A little town on the Florida Gulf Coast called Bradenton. It’s a sweet, homey sort of place. It has great light. It’s close to the beaches, very laid back, with warm, friendly people.
When did you take your first big risk in life?
I left Florida for Alaska in my early twenties and eventually hitchhiked my way back home. It was a brief but powerfully life-altering experience. It was day-to-day survival, and it forced to live wholly in the present.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve found that experience fostered a kind of innate, lasting calm. I know I can manage unforeseen variables and I can handle lots of different things that come at me.
Why have you persisted with the path you’re currently on?
I imagine it’s some inner brew of passion, compulsion, and solipsism that drives artists like me.
Who is someone you’d love to work with, but can’t?
I would have loved to assist the artist Paul Thek with one of his elaborate environments in Europe in the ’70s.
What are you working on now?
I’m preparing for a solo exhibition of my new paper works at the David Shelton Gallery in Houston, Texas. The show is titled Serpent Worship and the ten works that comprise this current series maks use of the serpent as a recurring figure. I’ve had a pretty transformational year and have been exploring the serpent motif as both a symbolic and spiritual icon.
Camouflage also a major them in my work right now, both literally and metaphorically. I’m fascinated by the phenomenon of a work of art being simultaneously seen and unseen, and actively shift between these modes of being.
This show will also include my first major wall installation, composed of over five thousand hand cut paper shapes!
Where do you spend most of your free time?
I don’t think I understand the question. I’m always in the studio.
What do you think is your biggest success so far?
Okay, this is going to sound schmaltzy, but seriously, every morning when I walk in and turn the lights on in the studio I feel successful.
I have this conversation frequently with my artist friends who are also 10, 15, 20 years out of their graduate degrees and still making art. We’re still here; we’re still doing it. Go team!