Gina Michaels’s “Hand Plants” juxtapose human and botanical forms in unexpected, but somehow natural, relationships.
Rather than using bronze to replicate forms created in another material, Gina uses it directly, combining the ancient tradition of cast bronze with the contemporary open forms of fabricated metal sculpture. In a spirit of meditation and play, of non-verbal (or pre-verbal) experience, Gina presses her hands, arms, legs and feet into casting sand, imprinting the expressive energy of the body directly in the mold. She also draws in the sand, recording the speed and arc of various movements. She then ladles molten bronze directly into the hollows created by the body. The immediacy of the flowing metal, and the happy accidents that occur in the process, are an integral part of the work.
With this spontaneous, collage-like vocabulary, Gina explores the structural and emotional relationship between humans and plants. The resulting “Hand Plants” are at once animal (body), vegetable (plant) and mineral (bronze). They occupy the boundaries between these worlds, and between the realm of things tangible and the realm of the spirit and are full of visual puns and double entrendres. A hand is a leaf, or the earth itself. Fingers are flower petals that invite close inspection, but might also poke the viewer in the eye.
Gina Michaels’s work has been featured in numerous solo, group and public art exhibitions in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Connecticut, and California.
2010 Contemplating Nature, Harrisburg Area Community College, Lancaster PA, curated by Judith Johnson
2009 Pouring Out My Heart (in bronze), Keystone Center for Arts & Culture, Lancaster PA
2005 Genesis, Projects Gallery, Philadelphia PA
2004 Climbing Jacob’s Ladder, Gratz College, Melrose Park PA.
2002 Hand Plants & Impressions, Paula Barr Chelsea, New York NY.
1999 Impressions, Ceres Gallery, New York NY.
1996 I Never Heard of Such a Thing, Ceres Gallery, New York NY.
1993 Small Bronzes, Ceres Gallery, New York NY.
Selected Group Exhibitions
2009 In Your Dreams, Art in City Hall, Philadelphia PA
2007 Parallel Worlds, Paula Barr Chelsea, New York NY, curated by Myriam Rotzetter
2006 Metals and More, Art in City Hall, Philadelphia PA, curated by Charles Burwell
2005 Art Miami, Miami FL, represented by Hyder Gallery, Philadelphia PA
2004 From the Studio, CfEVA, Philadelphia PA, curated by Katherine Ware, Phila. Museum of Art
2003 Palm Desert Art Works, outdoor exhibition, Palm Desert CA., curated by John Nagus.
2002 Crossing the Line, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia PA, juried by Paul Hubbard
2000 Philadelphia...2000, outdoor exhibition, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia PA.
1999 Ceres at Fifteen, Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn NY.
1998 A Sense of Self, Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, Philadelphia PA.
Philadelphia Sculptors, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton NJ.
1997 Art and Faith, Wagman Gallery, University of the Arts, Philadelphia PA.
1996 Closed & Open Form, NY Studio School, New York NY. curated by Michael Brenson
1994 Figuratively Speaking, Hurlbutt Gallery, Greenwich CT.
1992 Ceres on Broadway, Ceres Gallery, New York NY.
1989 On the Move, Metropolitan Transit Authority, New York NY.
Awards and Honors
2011 New Courtland Artist Fellowship, Philadelphia, PA
2008 Fellowship, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Amherst, VA
2005,6 Artist in Residence, Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Philadelphia, PA
2005 Finalist, Southeastern PA Transit Authority gate project
2004 Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson VT.
Edward J. Sozanski, “Outdoor Artwork Aims for a Natural Fit,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 22, 2002.
Roberta Fallon, “Sticks and Stones,” Philadelphia Weekly, July 10, 2002.
Burton Wasserman, “Art in the Environment,” Art Matters, September, 2002.
Renee Lucas Wayne, “The Art of Womanhood,” Philadelphia Daily News, November 16, 1998.
Education and Training
1993 MFA, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA.
1976-8 New York Studio School, New York NY.
1976 BA, Art & Art History, Oberlin College, Oberlin OH.
1975 Apprenticeship with sculptor Joel Shapiro, New York NY