Michelle Carla Handel

Return to Artist


I work in the area where the material and psychological meet. Rubber, clay, and plaster are mixed with cast-off parts and objects removed from their original context. I create artifacts that seem like they are direct references to something, but dodge any obvious position.

These artifacts describe the muddled, sloppy recesses of the psyche, the imprecise nature of memory, and how our biased minds tend to generalize and flatten things out. They imply utility and often possess a sensual fleshiness suggesting something illicit or transgressive. Arrangements within the continuum from body part to object are often absurd or confounding. They also translate intangibles like how knowledge is felt in the body, or the tactility of memory. Pieces like ‘I Want a Boyfriend’ and ‘We’re Not Made of Wood’ are made of stretchy rubber and textiles, sitting and drooping somewhere between body part and utilitarian object. They conjure sex, or some improbable purpose, with song lyric titles offering hints at other meanings. Personal histories dovetail into broader, more abstract ideas in ‘Rabbit’s Foot’, a site specific installation, where totems of personal history were presented
as a reinterpretation of childhood. Here, objects were fetishized, with areas arranged exactly as they had been in my childhood room. The installation was handled with an archaeological detachment – a bleached out, rough-hewn excavation filled with pubescent secrets, questions, longings, and anxieties. Where photography is employed in my work, layers of mediation in the form of copies, duplicates, and do-overs confuse the distinction between the real and the simulated. Creating distance between origin and final product, this work attempts to reconcile with our super fast, post-truth times where information comes to us warped and refracted.

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. Large scale digital prints depict arrangements of disparate objects that are mapped or cataloged like entomological specimens. An almost identical arrangement of objects is installed opposite this, like extruded versions from the photograph, shifting in palette and material. Arranging, framing, remaking, and documenting these objects are gestures that create order out of randomness and understanding amidst incomprehensible complexity. ‘Cloudbusting’ and ‘Doubling Time’ engage with the language of painting, with images of objects digitally printed on canvas and combined with three-dimensional objects to form singular compositions. The juxtaposition of digital imagery and physical objects move back and forth between different levels of space, engaging both spatial and cognitive perception.



Rabbit’s Foot, Solo Exhibition, Outside Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2013     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


Baker’s Dozen VI, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA
The Collectivists, curated by Manual History Machines, Brand Library and Art Center, Los Angeles, CA
Welcome, Fine Arts Gallery, Cal State Los Angeles, Los Angeles, 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
CGU Graduate Group Exhibition, Claremont, CA
Traces, Peggy Phelps Gallery, Claremont, CA
Second Year MFA Group Exhibition, East Gallery, Claremont, CA
Wood and Paper, Claremont City Hall, Claremont, CA
Leak of Contemporary Artists, dA Center for the Arts, Pomona, CA



2016                 Classical Music for Artists, book project curated by Geoff Tuck and David Richards

2015                 Parkfield Review, Issue 4, curated by Geoff Tuck and David Richards

2014                 Frank LA, Issue No. 001, ‘No Place Like Home’, Los Angeles, CA

2014                 Articulate – An Exhibition in Print, Los Angeles, CA



2014-2017          Co-Director & Curator, Eastside International (ESXLA), Los Angeles, CA

2014                 Packed & Jammed, Group Exhibition, Glendale Community College, CA

2014                 Ex nihilo, Eastside International (ESXLA), Los Angeles, CA

2013                 Tête-à-Tête, Group Exhibition, RAID Projects, Los Angeles, CA

2012                 Odd Ghosts & Unlikely Dancers: Phyllis Green and Bessie Kunath, WEEKEND, Los Angeles, CA


2016-2017          Adjunt Professor of Art, Norco College, Norco, CA

2013                Visiting Artist Teacher, Sculpture, Summer Arts Program, Menlo School, Atherton, CA

2013                 Visiting Artist Teacher, Advanced Studio Art, The Pilgrim School, Los Angeles, CA

2010-11             Teaching Assistant to Gary Kornblau, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, 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



“No Place Like Home”, Anne Ellegood. Frank LA, Issue No. 001, Dec 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.


MFA  Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA

BFA   Parsons School of Design, New York, NY