Born in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, Sally Michener’s first interest was Social Work. She received her MSW from Columbia University in New York City and worked in the field for several years in Saint Paul. At night, she studied ceramics with Warren MacKenzie at the University of Minnesota, and later pursued her MFA at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. She immigrated to Canada in 1973 and taught at the Vancouver School of Art/Emily Carr University for 25 years, where she influenced generations of ceramic artists. Throughout her career, she concentrated on ceramic sculpture and installation, exhibiting across Canada as well as in Japan, China, the USA, Mexico and Europe.About her work, the artist states “The human body and the column are basic subjects in my work. . . . I continue to be interested in formal, abstract composition, function and aesthetics.” Michener has received numerous Canada Council grants and awards and is a member of RCA. She has participated in ceramic residencies in Canada, Mexico and China. In 2007, she was one of ten Canadians invited to participate in a month-long residency and to create work for an international ceramic museum in Fuping, China, and, in 2009, she created a garden installation at the Burlington Art Centre in Ontario. Sally Michener served on the Board of the North-West Ceramics Foundation from 1993 until 2015.
Michener’s talk takes place concurrently with The Space In Between: Contemporary Works by Sally Michener and Tam Irving, on view at the West Vancouver Museum from September 14 to November 5. While that exhibition presents new and recent works, Michener’s talk will trace the projection of her career, focusing on her interest in the human body. Many of her early sculptures included naturalistic portraits press molded from life masks of friends, colleagues and her own face. Drawing connections between the figure and architecture, the faces were fixed to columns that recall the architecture of ancient Greece. Later work incorporated casts of internal organs taken from scientific models, exploring the body as a both a functional container of organs and origin of personhood and spirit.Molded eyes, mouths, noses, ears and hands reference the role of the senses in apprehending the world, while odd juxtapositions reflect the fragmentation of modern life. Produced in number and installed in outdoor or garden settings, these works encourage contemplation of the environment and one’s place in the world. Her most recent work consists of large-scale busts encrusted with brightly coloured collages of glass and tile, reflecting the artist’s sense of contemporary life in which our attention is pulled in a thousand directions and our brains forced to bounce “back and forth between different tasks and ideas.”
Michener’s lecture “Staying in Touch” will be presented Thursday, October 20, 2016, at 7:30 pm, in Room 245, North Building of Emily Carr University of Art + Design at 1399 Johnston Street, Granville Island, Vancouver. All are welcome, and we look forward to seeing you there.
For more information on The Space In Between, please see http://westvancouvermuseum.ca/exhibitions