Michelle Avery Konczyk’s new body of work ‘Les Fleurs’ further pushes both her technical skill as a watercolourist and her ability to use surrealism and the human form to give us a glimpse into the deepest parts of her psyche. In this series she explores “the idea of being that something or someone that could be considered a “filler-flower”, as is the flower we see throughout the series – Baby’s Breath. How can anything or anyone be reduced in other people’s opinions as just a filler? Without their innate value being recognised and appreciated? How would living with this experience affect and change you as a person, as an artist? We all strive to be someone special to those we love and admire, and create work that is valued – rather than just being part of the “static” of today’s highly saturated culture. Michelle’s ‘Les Fleurs’ posses some important questions about how we impact others and with our judgements.
“Les Fleurs is the second solo show from Philadelphia watercolorist Michelle Avery Konczyk. Throughout the collection highly rendered figures blur out into faded lines, representing the force or pull of collected memories as a lingering and permanent part of the subject, almost resembling a barcode – it’s not a coincidence, as life goes on these memories and experiences become the very fabric of who we are, who we were, and everything you’re meant to be. Like with her past works, Michelle intends to use each piece as a portal into a different world, the framing and shapes of each painting is deliberate and unusual, with reoccurring ‘keyholes’ filled with eyes and ears and baby’s breath, meant to be the things around us and an ever present sense that we are never really alone.” Patrick Shillenn, Arch Enemy Arts
‘Les Fleurs’ is on view at Arch Enemy Arts in Philadelphia until 28 June.
“Je Ne Suis Pas Belle
watercolor on paper mounted to custom cut panel, 17 x 11”
“My new body of work, in its entirety, resonates with me a lot, each piece in their own way. However, I’d say the piece that I connect with the most would be “Je Ne Suis Pas Belle”, not because of the title I chose, but more so because it’s one of those pieces that speaks to me on the level that words can’t portray. Upon the moment of its completion, I remember holding it in a way similar to how mothers hold their newborn child; everything about it was just right and I couldn’t really believe I was the creator. (It’s even my desktop background, like um, painter mom party-of-one!)” ~ Michelle
One of the new editorial’s in Beautiful Bizarre Magazine – the SNAPSHOT Q&A asks multiple artists the same questions. This format is wonderfully insightful as we get a peek into the hearts, minds and practices of different creatives working across different mediums and styles.
I asked Michelle a mix of the SNAPSHOT questions from both the current March issue and coming June issue of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine below. Enjoy!
“But Are You Really?”
watercolor on paper mounted to custom cut panel, 11.5 x 22.5″
Art is a visual language, what are you hoping to communicate to the viewer through your work?
I hope to convey emotions—the kind that words can’t accurately portray.
Through my pieces, I want to communicate feelings which are as unique to each viewer as the viewer themselves. It’s natural for people to seek something that can channel their emotions for them and to them, and I think that’s why, as humans, we create.
“Et Plus de Fleurs”
watercolor on paper mounted to custom cut panel, 12 x 10.5″
“La Tete dans les Nuages”
watercolor on paper mounted to custom cut board, 20 x 27″
What do you hope to leave behind in the world through your art?
I have to admit that the idea of leaving behind something in the world is a little strange, however, I believe that emotions are timeless. If I were to leave anything behind, I’d want it to be some kind of personal connection for the viewer of my work. Often, people will tell me about how they relate to my paintings by describing what my art means to them. I think that the greatest thing I could leave behind would be the emotions that my work has evoked— perhaps the feeling of understanding, or of being less alone.
“Can’t You See”
watercolor on paper mounted to custom cut panel, 12 x 12″
What is the most challenging part about creating art for you?
Creating the art is easy. My work is very personal to me, so when I create my ideas, color palette, shapes, etc., all just flow out of me. They always have.
I’d say the biggest challenge about creating is when you’re talking about making a living on what you’re creating, all while going against ‘standard’ social norms. By that, I mean, it’s hard for people to relate or to understand what it means to be a self-employed artist. Especially as a young female, you face a lot of issues in regards to being taken seriously. For that reason, I’ve found that you have to learn how to be your biggest critic along with your greatest support system.
“All Fades Together”
watercolor on paper mounted to custom cut panel & string, 11 x 9″
watercolor on paper mounted to custom cut panel, 5 x 11″
Did you do formal study in the Arts? Did you find it helpful or a hindrance?
I did briefly attend community college for fine art, but I left before finishing a degree. I found that I felt restricted by the program, and as if I wasn’t able to be fully creative with my work. Originally, my plan was to live at home, work on a portfolio, and apply to colleges that would better suit my creative needs. But, I started showing in galleries and college got put on the back-burner.
While I do believe that a formal study in the Arts can be beneficial for some people, I don’t regret my choice; there is a purity in being self-taught and not heavily influenced/assisted by the educational system. I like to think that’s something that shows through in my work, because my work is just that: mine.
L: “Baby’s Breath”, watercolor on paper mounted to custom cut panel, 5 x 11″
R: “Fading”, watercolor on paper mounted to custom cut panel, 5 x 11″
Who is your biggest Art Throb and why?
Definitely my great-uncle, John Konczyk, who had a passion for making amazing copper chests. He would take plain sheets of copper and painstakingly hammer texture onto every square-inch, just to cut and shape the pieces into intricate treasure chests. Essentially, think of the most beautiful, intricate, and magical pirate chest that you can, and that’s what he would make out of copper. It was the first form of art that greatly impacted me. He made me admire extreme technical skill and craftsmanship—a lot of which I like to think goes into my work. I’ve always had a dream to pick up where he left off.
watercolor on paper mounted to custom cut panel, 7 x 9″ “Dreaming”
watercolor on paper mounted to custom cut panel, 7 x 9″
watercolor on paper mounted to custom cut panel, 5 x 11″
Discover more of Michelle Avery Konczyk’s work on her website, Instagram or Facebook feed.