Always waiting with a smile, hug or high five, local artist Michelle Waters has become a driving force behind the thriving art community in the Mid-Ohio Valley. She’s an artist who lives truly embracing all five senses, enjoying the budding cultural life in the area and seeing art as a place where people can come together as one.
Michelle’s work is photo-based. It usually starts with her photography of nature, and sometimes structure. Then, that photography gets transferred onto wood, canvas, glass, metal or fabric. She uses a few different processes and has reasons for using different processes for different materials/processes (clarity, abstraction, fusion). Her work is always unique and often involves layering other things under or over the transfers -paint, wax, pencil, even fabric and embroidery.
As with many artists, her art has been a part of her life for her entire life. The medium might change and grow depending on where she is in here life, but she is always creating. Since she was a little girl, Michelle has used creativity to embolden her life.
“At home, we would use creativity to entertain ourselves-whether by making art, making up a play or a song, or pretending we were someone or somewhere we were not. I always felt like it was an adventure to use my imagination. Then in school, I always enjoyed art, I think because I felt at home there,” Michelle said.
As she grew up, so did her art. After falling in love with her camera, Michelle decided to major in fine art in college. During this time she also began to make art with the things she could find around her. After college she faced the idea of actually becoming an artist.
“I used to try and imagine what other people wanted from me, so I could create along the lines of what they considered to be successful, and wouldn’t have any question that I was doing it ‘right,’” she said.
However, this left her feeling less like she was creating and more like she was just copying. From that feeling, she began to explore ideas and media that she knew less about.
“I started by not approaching it from the same place of seeing what worked for other people – and doing more of what moved me inside.” Michelle said,“And for now, that seems to make me feel pretty happy.”
For artists, one of the hardest parts is actually acknowledging themselves as an artist. For Michelle, the first time someone introduced her as an artist, she felt positively giddy, and even now, it’s still a slow process of sinking in.
“Now that I’ve been selling my personal work, private commissions and talking about my process for a few years, I feel like I can stand behind it. Like I have a track record, a history of sorts,” she said.
Michelle plans to still grow and evolve as an artist. Storytelling is something that truly interests her, and anyone who knows Michelle will verify that she has a true gift in that area.
“I often use the stories I write in my journal as names for my work, and/or the inspiration. I use my writing because I’m working through a rough patch in my life, or really enjoying something about my life, and I feel like maybe someone else could enjoy knowing about it, too. Then if they take a piece home with them, they get to take my story home, too,” she said.
Aside from growing as an artist, Michelle wants to grow in the art of becoming a stable force in the lives of her family and friends. “The art of staying through thick and thin always eluded me until recently. I’m working on strengthening those muscles,” she adds.
As for now, Michelle plans to continue her endeavors of supporting art in the area. Previously she has worked with REsolve Studios in Marietta to bring children’s art projects to Marietta City Schools and the Boys and Girls Club. She has also taught adult and children’s classes at The Parkersburg Art Center. Michelle says that she truly feels alive when she can help people realize their creativity.
For those interested in working with Michelle to create a truly one-of-a-kind commission, they can start by checking out her website to get a feel for her work. Then, they just need to set up a time to meet with her and get started. In the meantime, Michelle will be available at several local events this summer including Marietta Marketplace on May 16th, Art on Tap at the Marietta Brewing Company on May 22nd and at the Three Rivers Arts Festival from June 5th – June 9th in Pittsburgh.