Michelle Lubin is a mother, visual artist and writer of creative non-fiction books.
Imperial Beach, California / United States
I took the leap to full-time Artist in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art (Montclair State University, NJ) and a dream in tow. Utilizing my past work (managerial) experience and social media helped connect me with local collectives, artists, and galleries, providing an education, a sense of community, mentorship, opportunities, and friendship.
Receiving RAW Natural Born Artist’s 2013 Visual Artist of the Year catapulted my exhibit experience and network while boosting my profile locally and nationally. Since then my work has been represented in print (The Studio Door’s 50 to Watch, 2018), at Art Fairs (Redwood Media Group’s, Art San Diego, 2018), and locally through painting community murals (Imperial Beach’s Beautification project, “Rock the Walls”).
Earlier this year, I received the 2020 Business of Art Scholarship, awarded and mentored by the Studio Door, San Diego Visual Arts Network and Mission Fed’s Little Italy ArtWalk. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has altered this scholarship’s roadmap and year’s career goals, I decided to use my art to help my community, donating a portion of sales to a local charity (South Bay Community Services) assisting with those affected by homelessness.
I thrive on challenges; whether paint or pencil, large-scale or miniature, original or custom; but it’s during my studio time, I learn the most. I freehand draw figurative (mostly self) portraits using pencil on custom cut and framed wood panels. Though I primarily work with graphite, I may sometimes add a splash of color to emphasize a meaning. The raw wood serves as a mirror, reflecting my words, skin, durability, vulnerability, and individuality. I have found that keeping tools and medium minimal provides an environment conducive to producing such intimate moments and poses.
The series’ I’ve created over the years has been a necessary therapeutic outlet for me during heightened periods of my life, both positive and negative. Pulled directly from journal entries, my completed works are figurative representations and interpretations of experiences and emotions, during times of confusion and angst, celebrations and change, confronting and conforming to life through art. The drafting process of tediously crosshatching on an organic surface proves over and over again it’s cathartic release.
While my figurative series are a personal necessity, my creative endevours have developed into more than fine art on wood. Since 2010, I have also continued to self-publish creative non-fiction books, intertwining them into workshops I have led that focus on the importance of balancing our mental and physical well being through meditation, movement, journaling, and self-portraiture.
As a contemporary female Artist and mother, I feel a sense of urgency, now more than ever, in sharing my own story and struggles, utilizing creative outlets. Having a supportive partner and young daughter has continued to motivate my goal in using art to communicate the difficult and often times taboo conversations challenging our world today. I hope to be a part of the solution and will continue to be an advocate of self-love, empowerment, and mental health awareness with the emphasis on just how essential art is to our humanity.
I’m just your average mom, wife, artist, friend. I’m also a lot of other things. In the words of Ani Difranco, “I am 32 flavors and then some”, of those individual parts that make us unique. And some of these parts aren’t always pretty. Accepting all of it will continue to be a work in progress. But there is balance amid the chaos, and for me it comes in the form of creative outlets. I’m grateful that these breadcrumbs have been dropping in bits and pieces well before I became a mother helping to shape the way I view and understand the importance of art, process, and community.
Though I have always struggled with the invisible and taboo nature of mental health awareness, after having my daughter, the rollercoaster of postpartum depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia flare-ups drew me closer than ever to the need to create. Whether journaling through destructive thoughts, drawing on a sometimes unforgiving organic surface like wood, or taking on challenging commissioned projects, the process is where my healing lies. I came to realize that in seeing my own (hand)writing and experimenting with technique, style and tools, has helped find my voice as a creator and self-love as a mother.
The art life can be incredibly challenging, throw in motherhood, the weight of the changing world and daily responsibilities, having the right support is crucial. I consider myself one of the lucky ones to have a supportive partner like my husband and my lil one that continues to light a fire within me. Their non-judgmental and selfless love gives me the drive to share my vulnerabilities through the art I create. Raising a daughter in these unprecedented times only amplifies my desire to be a part of the solution and help bring awareness to the inherent nature of art. I hope to continue to inspire a love of journaling and self-portraiture for anyone struggling. May it be a flashlight shining validation of pain, a light on direction and love that brings us together as humans.