Studio Visit: Michael Villarreal

Michael Villarreal is an artist working in Nebraska. His work can be seen in PLEAT's August 2016 exhibition as well as michaelvillarrealart.com.

Please describe your work. 
My work depicts household items that are representations of memories and past experiences. Depicting these items was brought on by an idea of how we take ownership of individual objects and the value they are given. In my studio, I was manipulating objects by changing their appearance— taking away their functionality and giving them a different identity. In doing so, I had a moment of sudden realization. Looking back, my father, who has worked at a U-haul his entire life, would rummage through the storage units that were abandoned and bring home anything that we can use to live comfortably such as beds, televisions, and window blinds. An item that once functioned in a particular way for someone else ended up becoming an item that functioned for our own particular needs. Thinking about this, the items that I make are derived by narratives from my past that are either sculpted or from found objects that are manipulated. 

What external and/or internal motivations guide your formal and conceptual choices? 
Motivations for my work come from looking at work from other artists, memories, or interest in objects around me that ignite a point of remembrance. I also watch cartoons which sometimes influence the decision of what the sculptures could look like. 

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them? 
I am interested in artists, particularly painters, who explore outside of the boundaries of the medium and not confined to a specific aesthetic. This has helped me open up to artwork I would have never looked at or gave a chance to understand in my early career as a painter. Here is a list of artists I do enjoy: Robert Gober, Tamera Seal, Del Harrow, Devin Troy Strother, Matthew Ronay, Jeff Koons, Claus Oldenburg, Light and Space artist, Betty Woodman, Denise Treizman, Johnathan Lasker, Trudy Benson, Rachel Debuque, Leslie Wayne, Jayson Musson + more.