Sponsored Content | Photos provided by The Art Group
The Art Group was founded nearly two decades ago when several Little Rock artists came together to share an art studio. In 2013, the artists officially opened a gallery, The Art Group Gallery, in Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center. Follow along as At Home in Arkansas interviews each of the group’s 17 artists to find out more about their inspirations and processes for creating.
At Home in Arkansas: Tell us a little about your background. Are you a native Arkansan? Do you work full time as an artist?
Michelle Moore: I was born in the Missouri Bootheel, which is almost Arkansas. I went to grade school in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., but I have lived in Arkansas most of life. My undergraduate and graduate education is in physics, chemistry, and instrumental science. I worked as an engineer for an aerospace and automotive airbag company for almost 10 years. For the past 20-plus years, my husband, Gary, and I have operated a consulting business where we provide research-based statistical consulting and statistical programming primarily for clinical trials and regulatory submissions. I have limited my time with our business to a minimum and now as a managing partner at The Art Group Gallery at Pleasant Ridge, and I consider myself a full-time artist.
AHIA: Have you always had an interest in art? Is it something you were drawn to as a child?
MM: I guess my earliest art memory is in first grade in Annandale, Virginia. Our class teacher gave us each a ball of clay and said we could make whatever we wanted. I shaped a duck. She then had it bisque fired and brought it back to glaze and of course I glazed it bright yellow. I still have the yellow duck to this day. Other than that, I have always wanted to make something—usually, it was crafty. Then as I got older, math and science took over through college and a career. It is funny that I later found my way back to art through clay again.
AHIA: Is clay your primary medium?
MM: I began working with clay at the Arkansas Art Center Museum School around 1998. It started as a way for Gary and I to get out of the house since we telecommuted from home for our business. From there, I started drawing, painting, and then printmaking. I sometimes use combinations of mediums to convey my art, like combining printmaking with collage or clay, painting on clay, or painting with collage elements. I use whichever medium seems to work best for the idea I have in mind.
AHIA: It sounds like you’ve worked with a little bit of everything.
MM: Yes, I have had the benefit of having great instruction over the years, both in Arkansas and outside. I am always experimenting with my art. Sometimes, I feel I actually experiment with art more than work on completing an art project or series, but this is how I learn and evolve as an artist. One constant with my art is the fascination I’ve always had with abstracted faces and figures.
AHIA: How would you describe your style and inspirations? What do you hope people get from viewing or owning your art?
MM: That is a hard one, because I look for inspiration just about everywhere. My style is always going to be more abstract, and, while it may reference a figure or face, it will not render the subject exactly. I want people to feel an emotion, see something that speaks to them. My style may not speak to everyone, but who it speaks to is important to me. After seeing how my style was evolving, an instructor at the Arkansas Art Center introduced me to the Bay Area Figurative Movement in San Francisco. I am so glad she did because it gave me a sense of validation to how I wanted to paint. Painters David Park, Nathan Oliveira, Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, and Joan Brown were my favorites that came out of that movement in the 1950s. I was fortunate enough to see the David Park retrospective exhibit this past summer at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
AHIA: Tell us about your creative process. Do you have a studio?
MM: I have great studio space at the Pyramid Place building in downtown Little Rock. It started with a small paint studio, and later I added a second room for a printing press. I really like the vibe of the old building. I keep a small pottery studio at home, too, where Gary and I have about three wheels, a slab roller, and a large kiln, but I still enjoy taking classes at the Museum School. You can also catch me working on art when I am at The Art Group Gallery.
My process is indeterminate, but one thing is for sure, I have to have a clear mind and be able to immerse myself into my art or it just doesn’t happen easily. Usually, when I first get to the studio, I will straighten up, then I sit down and observe what I have on the easel. I may do a little research, look at vintage photos, or think about color theory before focusing on the work itself. I almost always listen to music.
AHIA: We know the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many people do business. How can clients shop with The Art Group Gallery now?
MM: We had to temporarily close the gallery’s doors to visitors, but our website, artgrouparkansas.com, is always open. We are all learning new ways to continue with our art and the business of art. So, for now, you can call (501) 690-2190 and arrange an appointment with any artist to visit the gallery while maintaining safe practices or visit our website where we accept PayPal and can arrange shipping and delivery.
Learn more about Michelle and The Art Group Gallery at artgrouparkansas.com.