Honorable Mention for the Graduate Excellence in the Visual Arts Award
Michelle Eccles is a Master of Fine Arts student in Studio Art with Florida State University.
Michelle Eccles’ work explores the psychological characteristics of everyday objects and the emotions they elicit. Through the process of painting itself—obsessive observation and representation, she investigates deeply personal aspects of disconnection. In Eccles’ still lifes, there is a detachment between the objects themselves and the emotions they elicit—Legos, cleaning supplies, and cosmetics become charged with a certain sadness in their solemnity and quietude despair their colorful rendering. Her portraiture is also imbued with an unexpected pensiveness that conveys a sense of nostalgia and longing, exploring themes of repatriation upon the artist’s return tot the United States from Japan, where she lived for a decade. These works lament a loss of cultural identity, illustrated through the dissonance between the aggressive, empty stare of the figure juxtaposed with the flat, playful, Japanese textile patterning. The whimsical patterns attempt to engage with an engulf the figure, but ultimately fail to reach her physically and emotionally—they co-exist in parallel universes. Eccles’ most recent work is comprised of multiple studies of abstracted interior spaces rendered in a loose, seductive manner. She paints these dreamy, ethereal expanses that the viewer is constantly removed from, suggesting that this is not so much a real place, as it is an environment for introspection and contemplation. These spaces are distanced from us by one degree, represented through reflections and unpended perspectives, as if the viewer is always on the outside looking in, never able to be part of that world. Eccles’ body of work describes a profound sense of yearning for a place and time that the artist and the viewer cannot be a part of—a world that represents our unconscious desires, but ultimately, does not exist.