Michelle Bukowski: The "Mixed-Media Reuse" Artist
Staff Writer By: Hope Kumor (hopeandlove)
Not only do we feature digital artists on Renderosity Magazine, we also chat with all types of artists. I found mixed media reuse artist Michelle Bukowski via Facebook. She was in a group called, "Nashville Creative Group," and made this post 'Excited to share I'm the new artist at Creative Village Artists Studio #recycledart #shoplocal #nashvilletn #madeinnashville.' Immediately, I wanted to know more, so I reached out to her. She was happy to chat with me about her creative background.
Tell me about yourself.
I am a mixed-media reuse artist living in Nashville, TN. I come from a line of artists; my mother is a painter, my father was a water colorist, jewelry maker and mastered the art of lost wax casting, as did my grandfather and uncle. I am married to a musician who is also a photographer. I am a huge hockey fan (Go Predators!) and a bit of a SciFi geek. Ok, I'm a HUGE SciFi geek; Doctor Who (NEVER Dr. Who) and Star Wars are my favorites.
Please explain what a "Mixed-media reuse artist" is.
My work contains a variety of mediums: acrylic paints, water colors, drawing inks, India inks as well as papers, empheria, found objects and recycled materials. For example, the flapper girl piece was created on a canvas I made out of a snack box. The second layer on the canvas is mixed papers covered with acrylic paint. She was hand-drawn and then painted using acrylic paints and outlined using drawing inks. So, when I refer to myself as a mixed-media reuse artist, I am saying that I am traditional in the use of multiple mediums but untraditional in also finding a way to use materials in my pieces that mostly likely otherwise end up in a landfill.
How did you get into art?
I've been around art all my life. My dad taught art at UNCG back in the 80's and I recall my parents hosting dinner parties for their fellow artists in our home. I have vague memories of those parties with the artsy crowd. I was enthralled with those colorful people even as a small child. And we had wall to wall art in our home: Sculptures, paintings, and photography. It was everywhere. I loved the explosion of textures and color. And I was so lucky to be exposed to great artists at a young age. We had a Lipchitz sculpture, Picasso, Van Gough, and Adams prints among our collection of work.
Why did you want to become an artist?
I never actually set out to be an artist. I've always played around with multiple art forms; photography, painting, drawing, and hand-building pottery, but never thought of myself as an artist. It wasn't until about a year after my dad passed away that I turned back to it. I needed something to fill the void and distract me from the pain. I discovered art journaling on Pinterest. After I dabbled with it for a while, I fell in love.
I belong to a women's leadership group and early on, we had an activity where we shared an object that told a bit about ourselves. I shared my art journal. As I flipped through the pages, the women were visibly impressed and looked at me and declared, "You're an artist." It wasn't until that moment that I ever identified as an artist. Now, it's how I introduce myself and I haven't looked back. This last year I've been in two collective shows, a joint show with my husband and a solo show. I also sell art in four locations around town. I even have reuse pieces in a library in Kentucky this month as a representative of the Turnip Green Creative Reuse.
What is it about art that you love?
I love the community that can be built around art. I lead workshops around town and creating in community always brings people together. It allows people to open up and be their authentic selves.
What does art mean to you?
It's a way of life. I've always got a new or current art piece being developed in my mind. Creating art keeps my soul happy and fulfilled. I am happiest when I've got paint on my hands and five or so pieces in various stages in my studio.
How did you become so passionate about art and why?
It was in that moment, four years ago, when my colleagues and friends looked at my art journal and told me that I was an artist. There was something in the joy of sharing a part of myself and it being so well received. That night was very validating. It's like I found a missing piece of myself.
In a lot of ways, I feel like it keeps me connected to my dad. I know he would be so proud of me.
Also, as a reuse artist, I love the challenge of looking at what others consider trash and figuring out a way to make it into something beautiful, useful or at least functional (like creating an art journal out of old posters from work) and keeping it out of the landfills.
Please follow her on Instagram @shutterbuk.