Michelle Ott makes illustrations and hand-cut photographs focusing on observations of our physical and social world. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally most recently at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Berkeley Art Museum, and the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her illustrations have appeared in the New York Times T Magazine online and are featured throughout The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee (2012) and Candy Is Magic (2017) both published by Ten Speed Press. Ott has given visiting artist lectures at both UC Berkeley and Stanford University and has recently taught in the Art Practice department at Berkeley. Michelle is the recipient of several awards including a residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (2013), an exhibition and grant from The Institute for the Future (2014), a travel grant and exhibition at the College Art Association Conference (2015), and the Eisner Prize in Art Practice with a post-graduate fellowship residency from UC Berkeley (2015). For her service over four summer seasons at McMurdo Station in Antarctica Michelle has received the Antarctica Service Medal. She holds a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and an MFA from the University of California, Berkeley. Michelle is currently the Artist in Residence at the Gateway Science Museum in Chico, California.
Archival Prints in Metal Pin-backs with Mylar Covers, 2012-ongoing
Resolution Buttons are an annual drawing project I’ve been doing since 2012 in my effort to draw the things we wanted to see/have/do in the future. The past buttons become an archive of what was happening, what we worked on and a record of what we think we needed. Reviewing the past, I like to remember when that past moment was the future. The hopeful trajectory of the project is about recognizing a sense of resolve in moving f o r w a r d —–> and spending some time identifying what you need to get you going to where you want to be.
I consider each drawing a talisman to manifest the future, or to refine the present. Their meanings change as our needs and desires change. I love giving them to people and hearing the interpretations that different people have of each image. In this way, the project becomes a marker of what each recipient considered important to them each year.
Video by Felix Jung
The Postcard Machine (Possibly from the Future) was first constructed in 2006 out of a giant cardboard box at McMurdo Station Antarctica, for the annual McMurdo Craft Fair. It is now made from marine canvas and has traveled between both coasts in the US, most recently at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts where visitors were invited to spin the dial to receive a postcard, or create postcards of their own:
It is a vending machine, a social experiment, and an art project. I sometimes consider it my sketchbook. Postcards are frequently screenprinted on discarded paper backed with cardstock from my household recyclables. Here are some samples of postcards:
List of Postcard Machine Appearances:
McMurdo Alternative Art Gallery, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Renegade Craft Fair (San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles), North Beach Art Walk (SF), Beyond Eden Art Fair (LA), Maker Faire (San Mateo, CA), Chikoko Bizarre Bazaar (Chico, CA), Manifesto Gallery (SF), Oakland First Friday 2007, American Craft Council Show (SF), Handmade Nation (the movie), on the street in Jack Kerouac Alley (SF), Powell’s Books (As Candy Machine), Heath Ceramics (As Candy Machine) (SF), Treasure Island Music Festival, University of California – Berkeley.
Installations variable. Includes Graphite on Wall, Handcut Archival Inkjet Prints, Graphite on Paper. 2004-ongoing
Between 1999 and 2007 I spent four summer seasons working as support staff at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. This project is an ongoing negotiation of my participation and observation of human intervention in the ice landscape, and includes photographs (sometimes with handcut surfaces) and drawings.
Ink and Colored Pencil on Paper, 2015
I had the special privilege to illustrate and hand letter a passage from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time in honor of the book which was read nightly, aloud, throughout a pregnancy in preparation for a daughter to be born. A beautiful girl she is!
Riffing on the linden blossom tea and the time of year (nearing July) I made a fireworks display of linden leaves and blossoms to loosely frame an oval of text.