J. Michael Simpson
Simpson completed a B.A. from Western Illinois University and a tour in Germany with the Air Force before attending Illinois State University for his M.F.A. While in a graduate art history course, Simpson recalls making the connection between his childhood experiences and his art. The connection was the Sublime. The art and writings associated with the Sublime gave relevance to the awe and wonder he experienced playing out-of-doors as a child. Simpson states, “For the first time, aesthetics paralleled events in my life while providing a painterly approach to express the wonder I felt while exploring the woods and rivers of Illinois.”
It was at the McColl Center that he asked to borrow their digital photo camera to document his favorite river site. Instead, he was loaned a digital video camera to use for the trip. He quickly realized that video of the river turbulence could inform his paintings and drawings in ways observation or a film-camera could not. Video dramatically changed his work process. He now transcribes the videos of rivers into paintings, drawings, mixed media installations or finished video short productions that focus on how digital technology has altered our understanding of place.
His work has been exhibited in over 200 exhibitions and placed in such corporate collections as IBM, Tropicana, and McGraw-Hill. His video productions have been shown in the 9th Pune Short Film Festival, Maharashtra, India, Spaces, Its Liquid, International Art & Architecture Festival, Venice, Italy, and six times in the Underexposed Film Festival yc in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Recently, his video work was presented in installations incorporating painting drawing, silkscreen, and video in a one-person exhibition titled Since Then in the Anderson Art Center in Anderson, South Carolina and at Caldwell County Art Center, Lenoir, North Carolina.
Simpson, a veteran art educator, taught studio courses for Auburn University, Eastern Michigan University, and Winthrop University. He retired from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; there he taught drawing, painting, and mixed media courses. He currently maintains a studio at the Tom S. Gettys Center where he creates his video-based work. Attached to his studio is the Sprengeri Studio Gallery, a showcase for the work of contemporary regional artists.
During a family reunion in the Colorado Rockies Simpson discovered a white-water river. The surface turbulence of the river embodied the wonder, energy and spirit he associated with sublime chaos of the flow of life. This work continued as he painted moments of river turbulence on rivers across the country. That work has been exhibited in over 200 exhibitions and placed in such corporate collections such as IBM, Tropicana, and McGraw-Hill. Simpson has received a fellowship/residency at the Millay Colony of the Arts, an Alabama state grant for painting, and a residency at McColl Center for the Visual Arts in Charlotte, NC.