Waste Tube 2011
The artworks become actions with no reservation and responses with calculated intuition.
—artist Michelle Carollo
Farmingdale native Michelle Carollo is a full-time arts coordinator and part-time educator. But the Stony Brook grad is in her element using power tools to create large-scale abstract installations. “My process investigates using three-dimensional elements on two-dimensional painted surfaces—sculptural paintings,” says Carollo. “I’m completely immersed in what I make and how my body reacts within the space while I am making it.”
The artist received an MFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2007 and has shown her work in New York City, Miami, San Francisco, Indianapolis and elsewhere. Some of her earlier works like Waste Tube, Black-Out-Bits and In a Split recall the Whos’ colorful flu-flubers, tar-tinkers and hoo-hoovers, while Carollo’s latest installation, Bubblegum Vanity, includes elements of furniture design and dumpster diving treasures. Her new piece will be shown at the Patchogue Arts Council from May 3rd to June 21st as part of a show entitled Projections: New Installations by Michelle Carollo and Jason Paradis. The artist reception takes place Saturday, May 3rd from 5-7pm.
A Grants for the Arts Coordinator for the Huntington Arts Council (HAC), Carollo helps local artists find funding for their projects. She’s also the Artistic Director for HAC’s SPARKBOOM initiative, which showcases emerging artists, musicians and poets on the island—this season’s first event will take place on June 21st at Walt Whitman’s birthplace in Huntington Station. Carollo, who resides in Farmingdale with her three parrots, Henry, George and Jake, took some time away from constructing Bubblegum Vanity to discuss HAC, SPARKBOOM and her own art projects.
Pulse: When did you get involved with the Huntington Arts Council and grant writing?
Michelle Carollo: I became involved with the Huntington Arts Council a little over two years ago as the Grants for the Arts Coordinator. I administer the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Decentralization Program. The Decentralization Program provides funding to Long Island arts and cultural organizations and individual artists in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the positive impact just one individual project can have in a community. When that multiples, the ‘art effect’ reverberates endless possibilities. Really, that’s my hope in encouraging artists – to have them witness their potential. Turning the stored energies in the back of their minds into tangible realities.
P: Explain the SPARKBOOM initiative. Are there any events coming up?
MC: SPARKBOOM is a project of the Huntington Arts Council. It came out of a direct need to connect young, emerging artists with opportunities and exposure, to jumpstart their careers on the island. I’m the Artistic Director and lead a collaborative team of artists, administrators, and creative thinkers to create arts events and programs that both showcase and highlight young emerging talent. Emerging artists are often overshadowed or under-recognized. SPARKBOOM is a forum for that talent—the future leaders in the arts. We have a fantastic line-up this season with events still in the planning stages. The kickoff event will be at the Walt Whitman Birthplace on June 21st. I won’t give away too many details, but let’s say it will include spoken word, sculpture, painting, original music and singer-songwriters.
P: Do you still create drawings and sculptures along with the installations? Describe The Gateway mural, the pubic art commission you’re completing in Indianapolis.
MC: Most of my energy is geared towards large-scale public works and installations these days. Drawings and small-scale sculptures remain part of my art-making process. I often make drawings as initial thoughts for my large works. It’s a place where I can run free, put down aggressive marks, make calculated actions, test color relationships—be as disciplined or as rebellious as I want to because I can.
‘The Gateway’ at Broad Ripple in Indianapolis is still in progress. The design stage is complete and now being executed on vinyl. The mural is two panels. One center panel and the second is a left side panel that adorns shops and a parking garage complex. The background is two-toned stripes of aqua blue. In the foreground, a set of stairs, that look like a half-pyramid, take up three-quarters of the mural. On the stairs, eight silhouette figures cascade up and down. Some may indicate they are commuting to work with a briefcase or handbag, while others appear to be dressed for casual play. A bicyclist passes by on the right side of the mural. Reds, purples and black and white stripes alternate throughout the center panel. The left panel has three images of cutout trees in black and white placed on top of neon green circles.
P: Describe your new installation, Bubblegum Vanity, for the Patchogue Arts Counci in as much detail as possible.
MC: It’s a spin off from older work—playing with previous concepts of transforming a room into a three-dimensional abstract painting. In this piece, I have shifted my focus towards the idea of making non-functional furniture. I like the idea of making something completely useless. ‘Bubblegum Vanity’ is just that. A vanity with mirrors and lights with no chair, just a set of stairs leading no where, with a red carpet cascading downward. The alluring carpet entices the spectator to come closer and exchange with the piece. It has a series of drawers, in white and black polka dots, projecting out from the black frame. Geometric shapes, in chartreuse and red mix, are juxtaposed with blue-purple striped shapes throughout the piece. The sides project out towards the spectator with colored plexiglass and each side sits upon two hand-made ottomans.
Approximate size is 144” x 120”
Materials: Wood, Plexi-glass, mirrors, vinyl, tape, paint, crates, light bulbs.
Surface: Flat, gloss finish.
Theme: The act of making a place to facilitate vanity. I suspect a few ‘selfies’ from attendees will further extend the work into a social sphere.
P: Why is the exhibit called Projections?
MC: It’s a two-person show and I’m showing with artist Jason Paradis. We both use the idea of projections: Physically, by using materials that come out into the actual space and emotionally, by projecting our artistic views.
You can check out Carollo’s striking Bubblegum Vanity at Patchogue Arts Council during the artist reception on Saturday, May 3rd from 5-7pm.