Michelle Stuart is an American artist multidisciplinary artist best known for her sculpture and painting in Environmental art.
Michelle Stuart was born in Los Angeles, California in the 30s. She studied in Mexico, France, and New York at The New School for Social Research. Stuart was one of the first artists to pioneer the use of organic mediums such as earth, wax, seeds, and plants to the vertical surface experience. With her art, she has created complex, multifaceted investigations of the relationship between nature and culture.
For more than four decades she ranged in scale from monumental earthworks to intimate talismanic sculptures.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, Stuart’s experiments with alternative mediums resulted with so called scrolls – earth rubbings which are created through a process of smashing, pulverizing, rubbing and imprinting soil and rock into sheets of scroll-like paper. These luminous monochromatic drawings brought Land art to the galleries, expanding the Minimalist vocabulary to include nontraditional materials. She gathered her materials on places like Sayreville, the Mesa Verde, or the Honduran Mayan archaeological site of Copán – and what she did is exploring the elements inherent to that specific location just to displace them in a translated artistic form within the gallery or museum context.
Stuart called this “drawings in the landscape”, like in Niagara Gorge Path Relocated from 1975 or Stone Alignments/Solstice Cairns from 1979, she positioned 3,400 boulders in a linear configuration which indicated the rise and fall of the sun at its summer solstice.
In the 70s, Stuart was very active in the development of the Women’s Movement – she participated in gatherings of female art professionals in New York City. She was a part of Heresies, a feminist publication devoted to art, politics and history and she also helped create the Women’s Art Registry in New York, a grassroots method of disseminating information about under recognized female artists.
Throughout the 1980s, Stuart created a series of large gridded paintings, introducing beeswax, seashells, blossoms, leaves and sand imbedded in an encaustic surface with a system that promotes a non-hierarchical world of composition – it allows perception to oscillate between the fragment and the whole.
Stuart also experimented with multi-media installations with light and sound elements. Ashes in Arcadia from 1988, was a monumental encaustic relief painting, with earth, fossils, books, rocks, plants, glass, metal, refuse, ashes and the haunting sounds of a humpback whale. This work expressed Stuart’s discontent with America’s irresponsible treatment of its own nature and culture as well.
That was the breaking point for Stuart to extend her meditation on the vulnerability and endurance of nature. Series Extinct from 1993 was inspired by a Victorian album of leaves carefully and lovingly preserved until today. She contemplated that old fashioned effort in contrast with a modern world of consumption.
Stuart shared her skill for writing words throughout her entire career – back in the 70s; she began to create the Rock Book series, artworks about her experience with a use of natural materials from specific sites. These writing could be easily considered alternative travel logs. Besides that, all through her work elements of language could be found in the form of fragments of texts, petro glyphs, postcards, logbooks and maps.
Stuart’s work can be found in museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center Minneapolis, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the National Gallery of Art, Canberra, Australia.
Stuart was a resident at the American Academy in Rome. Among the grants that she has received are John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1975); four National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants (1975, 1977, 1980, 1989), two New York Foundation for the Arts grants, and a Ford Foundation grant. She is an Academician of the National Academy.
Featured image: Michelle Stuart, photo by Ruth Fremson, NY Times
All images copyright © the artist
|2015||Tracing Memory Selected Works 1969 to 2015||Parafin, London||Solo|
|2014||Silent Movies||Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects||Solo|
|2014||The Radical Redefinition of Drawing, Works from 1969 to 1979||Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, Art Basel, Miami||Solo|
|2014||Michelle Stuart, Early Drawings||Anthony Slayter||Solo|
|2013||Drawn from Nature||Djanogly Art Gallery||Solo|
|2012||Palimpsests||Leslie Tonkonow Artworks, New York, NY||Solo|
|2012||Ends of the Earth, Art of the Land to 1974||The Museum of Contemporary Art||Solo|
|2011||Works from the 1960s to the Present||Leslie Tonkonow Artworks & Projects||Solo|
|2007||Butterflies & Moths||Judy Ann Goldman Fine Art, Boston, MA||Solo|
|2006||Aurelian Variations||The Drawing Room, East Hampton, NY||Solo|
|2002||Silent Fields||Art Sites, NY||Solo|
|2002||Orbs||Gallery at Dieu Donne Papermill, NY||Solo|
|2000||Michelle Stuart||Locus Gallery, St Louis, MO||Solo|
|1999||Passages and Navigations||John Weber Gallery,||Solo|
|1999||Frog Pond,Quartet Editions||Diane Villani Editions, NY||Solo|
|1998||The Heart of the Matter||Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston||Solo|
|1998||Michelle Stuart||Glenn Horowitz, East Hampton, NY||Solo|
|1997||Natural Histories||John Weber Gallery, New York City||Solo|
|1996||Michelle Stuart||Bellas Artes, Santa Fe, NM||Solo|
|1995||Botanica, Sculpture, Objects & Drawings||Anders Tornberg, Lund, Sweden||Solo|
|1994||Recent Objects, Wall Works, Drawings||Fawbush Gallery, New York City||Solo|
|1993||Michelle Stuart||Bellas Artes, Santa Fe, NM||Solo|
|1992||Derelict Tracts||An Observatory, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara ,CA||Solo|
|1992||The Elements||Fawbush Gallery, New York City||Solo|
|1991||Michelle Stuart||B.R. Kornblatt Gallery, Washington D.C.||Solo|
|1989||Michelle Stuart||Fawbush Gallery, New York City||Solo|
|1989||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Marie Louise Wirth, Zurich, Switzerland||Solo|
|1989||Paintings, Books & Prints||B.R. Kornblatt Gallery, Washington D.C.||Solo|
|1989||The Architecture of Nature||San Antonio Art Institute, TX||Solo|
|1989||Small Sculpture||Art Gallery, College of Wooster, Wooster, OH||Solo|
|1988||Silent Gardens, The American Landscape||Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA||Solo|
|1988||Paintings||Max Protetch Gallery, New York City||Solo|
|1988||New Work||vanStraaten Gallery, Chicago||Solo|
|1988||Michelle Stuart||B.R. Kornblatt Gallery, Washington D.C.||Solo|
|1987||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Ueda Ginza, Tokyo, Japan||Solo|
|1987||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Aronowitsch, Stockholm||Solo|
|1987||Navigating Coincidence, Paintings, Prints, Sculpture||Galleriet, Lund, Sweden||Solo|
|1987||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Thorden Wetterling, Gotteborg, Sweden||Solo|
|1987||Michelle Stuart||Toni Birckhead Gallery, Cincinnati, OH||Solo|
|1986||Michelle Stuart||The Arts Club of Chicago||Solo|
|1986||Paradisi, A Garden Mural||The Grand Lobby, The Brooklyn Museum, NY||Solo|
|1986||Michelle Stuart||Max Protetch Gallery, New York City||Solo|
|1986||Michelle Stuart||Saxon Lee Gallery, Los Angeles||Solo|
|1985||Voyages||Hillwood Art Gallery, C.W. Post||Solo|
|1984||Sacred Precincts, From Dreamtime to the South China Sea, including Nantucket Excavation||Neuberger Museum, State University of New York||Solo|
|1983||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Ueda Warehouse and Ginza, Tokyo||Solo|
|1983||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Krista Mikkola, Helsinki, Finland||Solo|
|1983||Place and Time||Walker Art Center, Minneapolis||Solo|
|1983||M.S||Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, The Netherlands||Solo|
|1982||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf||Solo|
|1982||Michelle Stuart||Susan Caldwell Gallery, New York City||Solo|
|1981||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Tanit, Munich||Solo|
|1979||Droll||Kolbert Gallery, New York City||Solo|
|1979||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf||Solo|
|1979||Michelle Stuart||Foster White Gallery, Seattle||Solo|
|1979||Michelle Stuard||Institute of Contemporary Art , London||Solo|
|1979||Michelle Stuart||Ehrensperger Gallery, Zurich||Solo|
|1979||Michelle Stuart||Janus Gallery, Los Angeles||Solo|
|1978||Michelle Stuart||Centre d'Arts Plastiques Contemporaines de Bordeaux, France||Solo|
|1978||Michelle Stuart||Fine Arts Gallery, Wright State University, Dayton, OH||Solo|
|1978||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Farideh Cadot, Paris||Solo|
|1978||Michelle Stuart||Zolla Lieberman Gallery, Chicago||Solo|
|1977||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Munro, Hamburg||Solo|
|1977||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf||Solo|
|1977||Michelle Stuart||Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA||Solo|
|1977||Michelle Stuart||Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA||Solo|
|1976||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf||Solo|
|1976||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Farideh Cadot, Paris||Solo|
|1976||Michelle Stuart||Max Hutchinson Gallery, New York City||Solo|
|1976||Michelle Stuart||Gallery of Fine Arts, State University of New York at Stonybrook||Solo|
|1976||Michelle Stuart||Zolla Lieberman Gallery, Chicago||Solo|
|1975||Michelle Stuart||Max Hutchinson Gallery, New York City||Solo|
|1975||Michelle Stuart||Fine Arts Center, State University of New York at Oneonta, NY||Solo|
|1974||Michelle Stuart||Max Hutchinson Gallery, New York City||Solo|
|1974||Michelle Stuart||Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf||Solo|
|1973||Michelle Stuart||Douglas College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ||Solo|
|1973||Michelle Stuart||Windham College Art Gallery, Windham College, Putney, VT||Solo|