Michelle Dickson Uses Driftwood to Create Striking Self Portraits

by Margot BuermannPosted on

Michelle Dickson is an artist living in Baltimore who combines found materials with plaster, oil paint and wax to form her surreal sculptures. For her ongoing series Neither Mine Nor Yours, the artist merged plaster casts of her own face with driftwood she collected on her various hikes throughout the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore areas. The self portraits take an introspective approach to exploring identity and place in an uncertain world, as well as the impact that time has on our memories, bodies and relationships.

The artist explained the concepts behind her work in her artist statement: “I think about the physical process of remembering, the unstable nature of memory, and the resulting fear of forgetting. Memory as weight. The use of space in my work often corresponds to how I think about the mental landscape of memory. I’m interested in the similarity you can find in shape and texture across different parts of life. How the structure of rivers are like highways are like veins and root systems. Deteriorating walls can be a portrait of time and a record of human touch.”

For this series, Dickson’s process is largely based on intuition and experimentation with her materials. Evoking the naturally occurring decay of the driftwood, she inspires her audience to consider the effects of time and mortality. Her work also highlights the tactile quality of her sculptures, which tempt us to touch and hold them, as an important element in her work. “I think about the dynamic this creates between the viewer and the object viewed, as well as how the inability to touch has the potential to evoke the same intangibility of memory,” she states on her website.

Dickson earned her MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2011. She has exhibited her work across the United States, including in Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Get an in-depth view of her recent work, with in-progress photos, on her Instagram and Tumblr.

Artwork photographed by Joseph Hyde.

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