(William Butler. Charcoal, paint, and ink on paper. 9″ x 12″, 2018)
I started drawing as soon as I could hold onto whatever I could find that made marks on anything that was available. Drawing, always drawing. The more I did, the less I thought about what I was doing, instead focusing on the doing.
In 3rd grade I was making 10 cents a drawing (my repertoire included Dracula, Frankenstein, the Werewolf, and the Mummy) until the teacher found out kids were spending their lunch money.
Untitled. Watercolor (1965)
By the 7th grade my art teacher had taken notice and she loaned me books during class so that I could copy the drawings in them, mostly Michelangelo and Leonardo. I was fascinated and grateful. My friend Dougie noticed that these books included drawings of nude women and asked why he wasn’t allowed to copy from them. I hadn’t seen these nudes as naked ladies.
Untitled. Pencil on paper (1975)
By 8th grade the high school art director was asking me to contribute drawings to the HS year book. Drawing and painting. Always drawing and painting. I wanted to attend The School of Visual Art (SVA) after HS but my father, an MSEE, demanded I go to a “regular college” for one year. If I achieved an A average after that year, I could go anywhere I wanted.
I spent my second year of college at SVA and was ready to leave before the end of my first semester—I was reading on my own time and desperately wanted to learn things other than drawing and painting. I ended up taking a year and half off, working, finally deciding on Bennington College after spending one day as a film major at NYU.
Untitled. Pencil, paint, ink, and wax on paper. 5″ x 7″ (2018)
I arrived at Bennington College as a philosophy major which lasted all of a few weeks when I switched back to painting as a major with a minor in drawing. After graduation I ended up in NYC with the hopes of becoming a working artist while working at a day job in Information Technology on Wall Street. The realities of rent and life convinced me to stay in IT for the next 18 years or so. Into IT year 4, I met my soon-to-be wife Cathy and thereafter moved back to New Jersey to raise a family. While I kept drawing, the frequency slowed to a near halt until I thought about what I was doing when drawing instead of just doing.
In April of 2017, I started drawing again. Since then, I’ve made roughly 1,000 works consisting of collage, drawings, and photographs. At some point, after a few hundred works, I began to slowly forget about what I was doing, focusing on the work at hand instead. Full circle, more or less.
“Saint-Sulpice”. Charcoal, paint, ink, and wax on paper. 8” x 10” (2018)
Making these works is immersive—while the language of a work begins with marks, it ends up as language. One of the things I love about visual art is its language which does not speak in words. After College I spent 2 months traveling through Europe (on a Eurail pass) looking at art every single day, from London to Amsterdam to Germany, then Italy, and finally France. I walked everywhere eating very little and returned home 30 pounds lighter with a head filled with art’s countless languages. I’d expanded my vocabulary while decreasing my pants size.
Where words fail, music speaks. Hans Christian Andersen
Listening, always listening. I had a one-box record player as a child and taught myself to play ukulele one rainy weekend at the beach. The first record I remember being given was Sha Na Na. A few years later I bought my first record, The Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced, moved from ukulele to guitar, and never looked back.
Untitled. Direct positive print. 4″ x 5″ (2018)
I listen to music when I work. While the importance of what’s playing fades as the language of a work gets louder, there’s always something playing. Listening to music when I’m done making work for the day is also immersive, albeit in its unique way. Like visual art, music has its own language and I crave this language in as many forms as possible. With Tidal HiFi, I can tour the world’s music from the comfort of the Barn.
Here I sit in the Barn with 1/2 of the space devoted to listening to music on the hifi and making music while the other half is where I work on my works. A perfect balance.
I have a website for my work where you can see more of it: michaelavorgna.com