Tell us about your art work
Although it may not be obvious in my finished paintings, much of my work is based on the human figure and, on a deeper level, on our common human experience. I often feel that my paintings are more about intangible connections than tangible things. I’m interested in the idea of how works of art capture and even establish links between and among us – not simply as shared points of reference, but as interchanges of energy, as nodes through which both individual and collective experience is channeled. We'd love to hear more about your human rights work. What cause(s) do you champion for?
I've been fortunate to have worked with a number of great organisations dedicated to the promotion of human or child rights, including UNICEF, Save the Children, The World Organisation Against Torture, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Secretary General's Special Representative on Violence Against Children. I've had the opportunity to work on a range of issues that include child marriage, birth registration, female genital mutilation or cutting, violence against children, violence in schools, the prevention of torture, and the protection of humanitarian organisations in emergency situations. Who or what has been your greatest inspiration?
My father, who raised both me and my sister on his own, at a time when this was simply not expected of a man. Tell us about your time in Mozambique and your experience with natural pigments.
I spent 18 months in Mozambique, where I divided my time between painting and human rights work. The artists in Mozambique taught me that people who want to paint will always find a way, even when resources are scarce. Many of them paint on bed sheets with whatever kind of paint they can lay their hands on, and then tout their work around Maputo’s bars and restaurants in the evenings in the hope of making a sale.
There were natural pigments everywhere in Mozambique – mostly rich ochres and earth reds. I would keep a shovel in the back of my pick-up and come home with huge bags of earth and sand, which, after much rinsing and filtering, would be reduced to teaspoonfuls of intense pigment. I liked the idea of incorporating – quite literally - the essence of Mozambique into my work. In which direction do you plan to take your work in the future?
Recently I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate a more explicit human rights dimension in my work. What advice do you have for New Yorkers considering apartment appropriate art?
Don’t buy something just because it matches your sofa… About Michael Favorite City?
Lisbon, Portugal Travel Destination?
A rucksack, a ferry ticket and a remote Greek island or two.Hotel?
Grand Hotel et de Milan in . . . Milan, Italy. Restaurant?
Vinegar Hill House in Brooklyn Museum or gallery?
Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow, ScotlandFilm?
Jean-Luc Godard’s “A bout de souffle” Book?
Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”. I also loved Patti Smith’s “Just Kids”. And anything by Haruki Murakami. Cause(s) closest to your heart?
I worked for UNICEF for several years, so any initiative aimed at protecting vulnerable children. Artist?
Too many! Rembrandt, Matisse and de Kooning for a start. Bar?
Brooklyn’s got some great ones. Sunny’s in Red Hook and Weather Up in Prospect Heights are hard to beat. Shop?
Any art store with a sale on. Drink?
I never say no to a negroni… Top 3 songs?
Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane”, “Como Nossos Pais” by Elis Regina, and “The Boy with the Arab Strap” by Glasgow’s own Belle and Sebastian.
Visit Michael's website www.michaelmillerpaintings.com