Interview with Michael Villarreal

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?

My name is Michael Villarreal. I am originally from Lockhart, TX which is a small town just 30 minutes south from Austin, TX. Currently, I am attending University of Nebraska- Lincoln pursuing a Masters degree in Fine Arts.

Since grad school began my work has been at a constant flux until recently.  My work focuses on memory, whether it is from childhood experiences, dreams or thinking about items/objects and there functionality in a space, all of which put the viewer in a place of a domestic setting of absurdity and familiarity.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?

Rocko’s Modern Life/ cartoons, Childhood, Objects, The ton of artist listed below, my studio, my parents, COFFEE and lots of it... 

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

There are a number of things I can’t live without in my studio. A few years ago I thought it would just be oil paint but now that has become obsolete in my work. Recently my studio has been occupied with sheets of polystyrene, joint compound, gesso, matte medium, junk, spay paint.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them? 

Most of the work I am making and the sculptural elements involved are new to me. For years I was working traditionally as an oil painter. Once I started working in sculpture I had to start thinking about how these things I am trying to represent function in a room. It been a challenge but the results have been satisfying. 

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?  

Up until 2016, my work was quickly evolving and still is.  I think this is what grad school does to an artist— changes are expected.  What I found though, is the constant reference to the domestic as my work progressed and now my work revolves around it.  The narratives I have taken from memories lends itself for me to focus on objects you’d find in a home such as beds, brooms, window blinds, etc.

Is there a particular artist you feel you relate to? Who are your role models (artists or non-artists)?

Honestly it is hard to list every artist I pay attention to because there are so many but here are a few— Robert Gober, Tamera Seal, Del Harrow, Devin Troy Strother, Matthew Ronay, Tom Berenz, Jeff Koons, Claus Oldenburg, Light and Space artist, Betty Woodman, Denise Treizman, Johnathan Lasker, Trudy Benson, Rachel Debuque, Leslie Wayne. 

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?

Love what you make.


Check out Michael's work, currently in our exhibition, Surfacing