Michelle Gallagher is a long time ceramic artist and OPA member. She primarily does sculpture, and is known to incorporate found objects into her pieces. Last year Michelle’s Monk piece won the Poster Award at the 2013 Ceramic Showcase, you can see it on this year’s Ceramic Showcase poster.
“I love the tactile quality of clay, and prefer working with a groggy sculptural clay to fine porcelain. During the years following high school I took classes at community colleges off and on, in pursuit of an art degree, but never finished. I was looking for a way to express myself creatively and tried many things from sewing to pressed flowers, always returning eventually to clay. When I decided to pursue a career adventure delving into technical theatre, I often used clay as a tool by sculpting forms that were then finished over in papier mache before becoming set pieces, puppets or handprops. I worked backstage for over 15 years before setting up my clay studio.”
It’s been said that clay is a malleable and forgiving material but with a memory, and I have found this to be true.
Her influences come from all over the world. “I am especially attracted to Asia, and the Pacific Islands and have visited Hawai’i, India, Nepal, Thailand, Korea & Japan. I had an aunt who was in the Navy and sent gifts from her world travels including Japan. My dad was also in the Navy during WWII, and his experience in the Philippines was talked about often.
My heritage, however is from England and Ireland, and I have occasionally incorporated celtic knot work designs on figures, standing stones and tiles. I am also interested in international traditions that incorporate the spiritual connection to myth.”
26 Questions with Michelle:
1. How long have you lived in the area?
I moved to Portland, Oregon in 1988, so apparently 26 years, time flies.
2. What is your favorite season in Oregon?
I grew up in sunny So. California, so I do love the summer, but I appreciate that we have all the seasons here in Oregon. The winter snow doesn’t last long as in other parts of the country, fall can be quite beautiful, and oh..the spring…that’s planting time! So to answer your question, all of them I guess.
3. What’s your favorite movie?
The Wizard of Oz….hands down!!
4. Favorite current TV show?
I don’t watch much tv, but I do enjoy Antiques Roadshow, and have recently gotten hooked watching Lost on Netflix.
5. A book you plan on reading?
I listen to audio books regularly while working in the studio, next up? Oh, revisiting some John Steinbeck perhaps, The Wayward Bus was a favorite.
6. A book you read in school that positively shaped you?
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach.
7. A ceramic artist that has influenced you?
I studied with Katy McFadden, so definitely her influence is strong, however, I particularly love Michelle Gregor’s figurative work and my first influence from high school was Betty Davenport Ford, she sculpted our school mascot, a tiger, done in terra cotta.
8. Favorite non-ceramic artist?
Hard to pick just one…but as a Sculptor– Rodin; Painters-Maxfield Parish & Norman Rockwell, and Monet.
9. What’s your favorite source for inspiration?
10. Beer or wine?
If there is a choice, then red wine, if it’s beer I prefer dark micro brews, but a lemon drop also sounds quite nice on occasion. Cheers!
11. Favorite restaurant?
PokPok. I love Thai food.
12. Ideal breakfast?
Some kind of egg scramble with cheese & spinach. Is this an invitation?
13. Favorite dessert.
Chocolate…anything with chocolate!
14. Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Boiled okra…hated it.
15. Favorite band?
I enjoy all kinds of music, from classical to rock, and most of my music collection is from 20–30 years ago, so that is also a difficult question. I listen to instrumental music a lot while I work, but don’t care much for country or rap, with a few minor exceptions, that leads into your next question…
16. Favorite lyric?
Believe it or not, “I love you, a bushel & a peck, a bushel & a peck & a hug around the neck”, A Doris Day song from the 1950’s, I think. My mother sang it to me, I sang it to my kids, and now I sing it to my granddaughter. Which leads of course into, “All you need is love!”, I still listen to the Beatles.
17. Dogs or cats?
I’m more of a cat person, and have 2, but I also have a dog. So there you have it.
18. Bird watching or whale watching?
Birds…much easier to find in my back yard. 😉
19. Person you want to have coffee with?
20. What’s your favorite board game?
Parcheesi, well, it’s the last one I played recently anyway.
21. What’s the last country you visited?
Japan, in 2009 with OPA to be part of an exhibition in Sapporo.
22. What’s a country you’d like to visit?
I’d love to see all of Great Britain, and eventually return to Asia, at some point.
23. What’s your favorite constellation?
The Big Dipper, it’s the only one I can point out.
24. Best way to decompress?
Mediate, petting my cats (the dog won’t hold still) gardening, or shopping for plants.
25. When you’re not in the studio you’re…?
Working in the garden, playing with my animals, or, I hate to admit it…on the computer. I don’t get out much, but I love taking walks in natural spaces, especially at the coast when I can get there.
26. What’s your booth number at Ceramic Showcase?
C19, near the music stage.
Interested in finding out where to buy her work? Michelle also participates in the Local 14 Women’s Art Show and Sale, Love Art Gallery and others. View her website www.thefunnything.com for more info, and look for an upcoming article about her in the Oregonian.