Michelle Hinebrook’s art is abstract in an intriguing way. The colors, shapes and juxtapositions tend to make the viewer think she almost knows what she’s looking at. This tip-of-the-tongue-familiarity leaves the viewer with a sense of recognition, which makes the work resonate on a personal level. It turns out that at least a couple of the pieces offered at Green Box Art + Culture are personal, in that they are literally based on scans of the artist’s own body. We asked her to tell us more:
Green Box: What are we looking at when we look at your work?
Michelle Hinebrook: It’s abstract. It’s not representative of reality, although it references reality. I’m inspired by things found in nature, especially microscopic patterns. Most recently, I’ve been exploring crystallized forms and the way light reflects through them and across geometric planes.
GB: What is your medium?
MH: It changes and evolves with my work, which has different goals and applications. I use paintbrushes, air brush and digital technology to brainstorm ideas and create compositions. The pieces are built up from drawings using many layers of acrylic paint.
GB: When you mention microscopic patterns, are you literally looking through a microscope as you compose certain pieces?
MH: No, I may look at scientific images.
GB: Do you have an interest in science in addition to art?
MH: Yes, both science and architecture influence my work, in that I look at space as something that can be mapped through connecting structures. In two of these works [Enveloped and Sweet Spot] I was looking at CAD models [Computer-Aided Design] of scans done of my body, and I translated that information into work through triangulation and mesh patterns.
GB: So those two pieces are based on your body?
MH: Yes, I was looking for a way to represent the form of the human body in a non-representative way. I had laser scans done of my body as a model. The result was wire-frame mesh patterns that represent the body but aren’t literally the body.
GB: It sounds like art is in your blood. Have you always been an artist?
MH: I’ve been interested in art for my entire life. As a child I did family scenes, oceans, pictures of loved ones. Then I started to really develop my work as a preteen, when I started drawing things from animated movies. I started learning how to draw and translate pieces into art. I went to undergrad and graduate school to support that.
GB: Are you a full-time artist?
MH: I’ve been teaching for 12 years now. I’m a professor at Pratt Institute and Assistant Chair for the graduate Communications Design program.
GB: And what’s it like knowing that your work hangs on people’s walls in their homes?
MH: I really enjoy is sharing the work. It’s not really alive if it’s just in my studio. One of the reasons I do editions of the work [in addition to originals] is so it has a bigger life. People have every right to enjoy it and make it part of their life.
GB: What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
MH: It’s pure expression. I love to be able to make the work, realize my inner world and inner intentions, and be able to communicate that with the external world and the viewer. Art is true expression.