Michelle Carla Handel
I combine media such as rubber, ceramics, photography, and textiles to create sculptural work that sometimes possesses an illusionary or trompe l’oeil effect. The surprise and disguise of material is integral to my making process. Through form and material arrangement I attempt to create my own kind of visual taxonomy that describes extraverbal types of understanding. My sculptures are not fully representational, but they hint at everyday objects or body parts. These material arrangements are a way for me to address variabilities in perception, and how our biased minds make meaning. My work may imply utility and often possesses a sensual fleshiness suggesting something illicit or transgressive. Arrangements within the continuum from body part to object are often absurd or humorous. Whether pieces are all ceramic like ‘Sunnyside Down’, or made of stretchy rubber and textiles like ‘Small Yearn (Letdown)’ and ‘Not Your Brand of Humor’, they are likely to sit or droop somewhere between body part and utilitarian object. They may conjure sex, or some improbable purpose, with titles offering hints at meaning.
Where I incorporate photography into the work, I riff around ideas of self reference and layers of mediated content. I copy, duplicate, and make do-overs to confuse distinctions between what is real from what is simulated. For me these gestures relate to the way our minds process a daily onslaught of warped and refracted information. In the works ‘Oddments, Illusions, Engrams’ and ‘Smoke, Mirrors, Neurons’, each structure physically refers to some sort of didactic panel or bulletin board on casters, suggesting a source of information. Large scale photographs depict arrangements of disparate objects that are mapped or cataloged like entomological specimens. An identical arrangement of actual 3D objects is installed on the the opposite panel — ‘re-dos’ of the objects from the photo but with a shift in color and material. Arranging, framing, remaking, and documenting these objects is a way to create order out of randomness and understanding amidst complexity. Wall works like ‘Cloudbusting’ and ‘Little Sucker’ engage with the language of painting by combining photo-printed or hand-dyed fabric with three dimensional objects to form singular compositions. Other works like ‘Flipside’ and ‘Deep Dive’ are a mixture of hard and soft, incorporating ceramic or plaster parts with upholstered fabric elements. The addition of digital imagery in these works creates an effect of moving back and forth between different levels of space, and plays with current notions of meta and the self-referential.
2011 MFA Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA
1994 BFA Parsons School of Design, New York, NY
SOLO AND TWO-PERSON EXHIBITIONS
Rabbit’s Foot, Solo Exhibition, Outside Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Heart on Top of My Head, Solo Exhibition, Shoebox Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
I Do Not Deny Them My Essence, Two-Person Exhibition, Autonomie, Los Angeles, CA
Your Mouth, Undone, Two-Person Exhibition, Garboushian Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Hungry Me, Tender You, Two-Person Exhibition, RAID Projects, Los Angeles, CA
Big Yearn (Let Down), Solo Lobby Installation, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA
Strange Skin, Solo Exhibition, WEEKEND, Los Angeles, CA
Delicacies, Solo MFA Thesis Exhibition, Peggy Phelps Gallery, Claremont, CA
SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS
These Creatures, curated by Cindy Rehm, The Wignall Museum, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Bodies of a Different Mass, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, LA, CA
Skulpturengarten, The REEF, Los Angeles, CA
Taking Up Space, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, LA, CA
Baker’s Dozen VI, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA
The Collectivists, curated by Manual History Machines, Brand Library & Art Center, Glendale, CA
Welcome, Fine Arts Gallery, Cal State Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Kristin Frost, Michelle Carla Handel & Megan Lindeman, Norco College Art Gallery, Norco, CA
Arroyo Seco Garden Classic, curated by Katie Bode, DIANA, Los Angeles, CA
Underdonk at ESXLA, Eastside International (ESXLA), Los Angeles, CA
Lawn Ornaments, Outside Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
LA N CV 2, Coachella Valley Art Center, Indio, CA
After Eden, Muzeumm, curated by Durden & Rey, Los Angeles, CA
Another Thing Coming, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA
Shape Shifters, ACME., Los Angeles, CA
Margin Release Right, West LA College Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
The Familiar Unfamilar, Manual History Machines, Wonder Valley, CA
Cake Walk, Hudson Linc, Los Angeles, CA
Some Fine Women, VAST Space Projects, Las Vegas, NV
White Soup and Weighty Air, JAUS, Los Angeles, CA
Love For Sale, XVY Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
The Bouba Kiki Experience, JAUS, Los Angeles, CA
Jamais Vu, Space 4 Art, San Diego, CA
Constructing Fantasy, Beacon Arts Building, Los Angeles, CA
Ground Control, 5790 Projects, Los Angeles, CA
I Don’t Know Where But She Sends Me There, Royale Projects, Los Angeles, CA
Vertigo, Durden & Ray/LA Mart 12th Floor, Los Angeles, CA
Hanging Gardens, 1019 WEST/Beacon Arts Building, Los Angeles, CA
Co/Lab, Art Platform–Los Angeles, WEEKEND booth, LA Mart, Los Angeles, CA
GLAMFA, California State University Long Beach, CA
BOOM. Southern California MFA Group Exhibition, LA MART, Los Angeles, CA
Traces, Peggy Phelps Gallery, Claremont, CA
Leak of Contemporary Artists, dA Center for the Arts, Pomona, CA
AWARDS AND RESIDENCIES
2018 Fall Artist-in-Residence, Anderson Ranch
2018 Artist-in-Residence, April, Vermont Studio Center, Fellowship
2018 Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grant Nominee
“Classical Music for Artists”, curated by Geoff Tuck and David Richards, 2016.
“Parkfield Review, Issue 4”, curated by Geoff Tuck and David Richards, 2015.
“No Place Like Home”, Anne Ellegood. Frank LA, Issue No. 001, Dec 2014.
“Articulate – An Exhibition in Print”, Los Angeles, CA, 2014.
“Object lessons at Torrance Art Museum’s ‘Another Thing Coming’”, Christopher Knight.
Los Angeles Times, Sept 28, 2014.
“Emergent Presence, Fresh Faces in Art: Eight LA Artists You Should Know”, Catlin Moore &
Matthew Gardocki. Fabrik Magazine. Issue 18, Oct 2012.
“Handel/James: I Do Not Deny Them My Essence”, Grant Vetter. Autonomie. Sept 2012.
“Michelle Carla Handel and Eve Wood at Garboushian Gallery”, Catlin Moore. Daily Serving. Sept 2012.
“Your Mouth, Undone at Garboushian Gallery”, Clifford Eberly. Los Angeles I’m Yours. Aug 2012.
“Michelle Carla Handel and Eve Wood”, Shana Nys Dambrot. LA WEEKLY. Aug 2,2012.
“Josh Atlas and Michelle Carla Handel”, Eve Wood. Artillery. Sept/Oct 2012.
TALKS AND PANELS
2019 Artist Talk for These Creatures, Wignall Museum, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
2018 Artist Talk, Anderson Ranch, Snowmass, CO
2016 Artist Talk, Norco College Art Gallery, Norco, CA
2013 Some Fine Women, Panel Discussion, VAST Space Projects, Las Vegas, NV
2013 Visiting Artist Lecturer, Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, CA
2012 Constructing Fantasy, Artist Talk, Beacon Arts Building, Los Angeles, CA