Drew Michael: Heart of Our Understanding

Opening Reception: First Thursday, March 3rd 6-8pm

drew-michael-1Stonington Gallery is proud to present the debut exhibition by ambitious young Inupiaq/Yup’ik artist Drew Michael. A sculptor of great sensitivity, grace and elegance, Michael is inspired by the traditional forms of Inupiaq and Yup’ik masks, but morphs them into what has become his own deep iconography of characters and images. Drew Michael is making artwork that draws on his heritage, the intersection of his gay and indigenous identities, his interests in chakra and indigenous healing, and his religious upbringing. These stunning sculptures can be seen as stand-ins for his emotions, and their solidity, serenity and spirituality are evidence of a young man yearning for a place, for security, and for love.

Learn more below.

Exhibition Dates:

March 3, 2016 - April 3, 2016

Involved Artists:

Drew Michael

Featured Works

The works in Heart of Our Understanding were produced during his 2015-2016 residency at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, and reflect the deep thinking and feeling that Michael underwent in his time there. In many ways, Michael is a nomadic spirit: he and his twin brother entered the foster care system in Alaska as infants, and were in and out of foster homes in their youth. Today, Michael works and travels between many studios and cities, finding inspiration and connection in a peripatetic lifestyle. This yearning for relationships, trust, and a sense of home radiates through his work: there is a serenity, a solid certainty in his hooded feminine figures.

The symbolism in his current works revolve around the heart: as engine, as empty or full vessel, as exposed and vulnerable, or within a fortress of bone. Latticework cut-outs around the heart expose the fragile hollows beneath in “My River Runs Through”, and hands pull open a space in “7 Hands”. These works also debut Michael’s experiments with steambent wood, in the form of delicate, complex haloes around “Ray Echoes”, and the curved aura around the head of “Lady of the North”. Through all of the work, concepts of healing, connection, love, understanding, and spiritual knowledge emanate, making this a deeply powerful body of work, and a perfect introduction to the work of a strong emerging voice in the contemporary indigenous field.

Digital catalog available for this exhibition: