Interview With Michelle Selwyn

Within Digital print on cotton

Within
Digital print on cotton

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
Hello I am Michelle Selwyn and I am a maker living in Richmond, Virginia. I am finishing my degree of Craft and Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University this May.

It’s always kind of funny to say what type of work I make because it has changed into multiple things, but I would describe myself to be interested in Fibers and Metals. I make larger works that reference curtains but then smaller works that can be carried with you by wearing them on the body. I enjoy studying the world around be so that’s what I tend to make things about.  

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
Honestly I feel creepy answering this question because I am so interested in the structure of a house and what types of events and interactions that take place on the inside, that most of my inspiration comes from those little glimpse’s you get to see into a strangers home while just walking by. Sometimes the front door will be open or a curtain pulled back and you can see down their hallway and leading up the staircase or into a front study that has floor to ceiling shelves that seem to have perfectly composed books. I believe that you can really know someone by seeing where they live. Unfortunately I will never get to see inside of every house, but I like to try, for sale open houses or house tours have become a fun hobby.  

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
My work table. I have a six foot long wooden table in my studio space right now that I do not know what I would do without it. I love having a clean and big space to spread out supplies and materials. It used to be an old elementary school library table that my family bought from an auction and took the table top off the original base and built two new saw horse legs for it.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?
I think a huge obstacle that I have run into is not having the skill to fabricate something that I imagine. I always tend to design a piece with some form of wooden frame or bracket and I am not a woodworker. This leads to frustration when my attempt at woodworking goes wrong, but through this process I have learned to ask for help and learn some simple tricks that I hadn’t been able to figure out on my own. My biggest tip to myself with this obstacle is to be patient. And then be creative when using the tools I have to complete the job.

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?  
The recurring theme in my work is the public and private parts of a home, the knowledge of the exterior architecture and the imagination of the interior spaces. This tends to show up in multiple ways within my work. Sometimes this imagery is literal and I use the image of a house and then sometimes it is abstract and I use memories or colors from a specific house.

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?
I have once been told to never stop making, even if that means one small doodle a day.