Michael Alan’s intimate studio space near the South Street Seaport houses a number of his sculptures, drawings, and collages. His vista from the 30th floor situates Alan at a calm remove from the pulsating city that has inspired him for 35 years. The condensed space allows for a revolving display that dissolves the distinction between new and old work. Although a recent health fiasco has restricted his motion, he continues to adjust rather than halt his practice. He is a testament to mind over matter while managing to remain optimistic and fantastical. Below is an insight into Alan’s inspirational path and the nitty-gritty of his positivity.
Lynn Maliszewski: Your work considers both delicate line drawing and collaged, layered components. Despite the tension, it remains balanced over the larger scope of your work. Is the technical disparity based more on feel or a larger goal you have? What inspires the varied technique?
Michael Alan: The goal is to create a visual language based on multiple worlds that can touch as many people as possible. I investigate each layer and every mark, including the line work, cut-ups, splices of past drawings, mixes of medias, paints, colors, and prints. The various techniques, mediums, and energy create the effect of motion/emotion and all speak to the meaning behind the work: change. Change will always be true in this life. It is the one common denominator that the viewer can consider any time and see what they want. It is a part of our existence.
LM: How has working in a more domestic space influenced you? It crosses over so fluidly between studio, creative space, and home.
MA: Much better. I need a toilet and windows. We all deserve the best. I’m tired of slumlords that charge you a million dollars and give you a box. The doormen in this amazing building treat me so nice and the majority of the spaces I’ve rented that felt like squat spots treated me like I was a burglar for spilling paint and couldn’t wait to get rid of me for being an artist who paints there constantly. This building is the opposite and I find that extremely fascinating. I’ve got some support for the next six months. Thank you, Bed Bug Records!
LM: Do you value form or function of a space more?
MA: I work everywhere: outside, on the bus, my space, in my car, at my parents’ house, at the doctor’s office, up someone’s pants, on someone’s head. I value the ability to make art no matter what is going on around me. I ask myself this one simple question every day: Do you try to make an honest impact on the world through art or actions that might actually change all the negative bullshit “we” supply? If the answer is yes, then everything else is relative. I am hope, I am not Michael. I don’t care about anything else. You are hope.
LM: You were born and raised in New York and continue to live here. How does the city affect your work?
MA: The city is a changing machine, and my work is about change and movement so I feel I am in the center of art here. In the center of this machine I can hopefully radiate a positive blast outward. I look into the unexplainable face of life with gratitude everyday.
LM: What inspires you daily?
MA: Every single thing. My drawings, paintings, and performances embrace inner change and cultural acceptance. They celebrate movement, and reach for the ultimate achievement of occupying and embodying multiple spaces at once. Everything is happening now.
LM: You’ve been known to work with a wide range of techniques and material. Any favorites?
MA: Preparing for a storm is the same as mustering supplies to make a great work. Grab everything and make it functional, try not to over-think everything but think of everything. Keep your heart at the center. The storm is always there so when it runs free, grab it and put it into the art. Use everything you can for positive productivity.
LM: What makes more of an impact on you: the long-lasting or the transitional?
MA: That’s an easy one: memories that last. I don’t care about fleeting joys and I try my best to avoid them. Direct connection with people through art is the answer to many voids.
Photos By: Masha Maltsava
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