The Rapidian

ArtPrize artist feature from UICA: Michael Peoples

Michael Peoples is a self-taught artist whose works reflect on the cultural history of the Midwest with a comedic bend. Each work explores the significance of number, color, and form upon cognitive and emotional experience. Perchance to Dream reflects the idea of food as memory.
"Perchance to Dream" by Michael Peoples

"Perchance to Dream" by Michael Peoples /Courtesy of UICA

Underwriting support from:

Michael Peoples
Perchance To Dream
Category: Installation                
Vote Code: 66441
Current City: Grand Haven, MI, US

Art by Michael Peoples

Art by Michael Peoples /Courtesy of UICA

Art by Michael Peoples

Art by Michael Peoples /Courtesy of UICA

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts invites you to learn more about West Michigan's creative workforce, neighboring cultural organizations, and about ways to engage with Grand Rapids' art-scene with interviews and guest features highlighting our local and regional community members. Visit uica.org/learn for monthly interviews.

Michael Peoples is a self-taught artist whose works reflect on the cultural history of the Midwest with a comedic bend. Peoples has been experimenting with mold-making for several years, primarily casting in wax and creating work using multiples and repetition. Each work explores the significance of number, color, and form upon cognitive and emotional experience. Perchance to Dream reflects the idea of food as memory. 

For Peoples, some foods have developed an iconic status in the collective consciousness, such as the well-known Circus Peanut candy. The subtext of this work derives from the fondness that Peoples' grandfather had for the peanut-shaped candies and Perchance to Dream is an homage to his memory.

Tell us a little bit about the work that's on display at UICA.

Perchance to Dream is a multicolored river of circus peanuts molded in paraffin and crayon. It is displayed on sixty feet of raised platforms designed to cantilever with the exit ramp of the UICA. 

My grandfather loved circus peanuts, this piece is an homage to my memories of him. Beyond that I'd like to leave the story line of the installation open to the viewer. Sometimes it is easy to get lost in a works meaning, I have been molding this one for several years now and to me it has a myriad of interpretations.

You've participated in ArtPrize before (including at UICA!). What drew you to participate this year?

I have played multiple roles in the event throughout its history. It is a love/hate relationship on so many levels. I would have to say that this opportunity to bring artists to our community and the ability to work with them firsthand has been vital to the growth of my own work. 

UICA's former curator, Heather Duffy, is wonderfully persuasive and to be a part of her last exhibition at UICA was quite an honor. I had been aware of her idea of curating a show around the theme of food for a while and had proposed this work early on.

ArtPrize is a popular city wide event. What are you most excited about during this unique art viewing experience?

The dynamic of the event changes from year to year, so each year seems to bring new experiences. 

UICA's exhibit is centered around food. Does your work use food as a theme or lens traditionally or is this new territory for you?

Actually, I have worked in restaurants (on some scale) for around 25 years now. Many of the processes I work within are based on my experience in kitchens and with the dynamics of food. 

What has been your single biggest influence on your way of thinking?

An understanding, intelligent partner along with a tight knit community of artists.

Where else have you exhibited your work? Is there a project or exhibition that stands out in your mind as your greatest accomplishment?

I tend to focus on exhibiting regionally. This gives me the opportunity to concentrate on the work. There is a fragility to much of what I do. 

What new projects do you have on the horizon?

This project, Perchance to Dream will be in an exhibition at the Muskegon Museum of Art at the beginning of summer 2018. This is one of a series of works that I have that continues to expand and the iteration in Muskegon will be substantially larger. I have also participated in several exhibits at Tom Duimstra's incubator, 337 Project Space - this space really allows me to show my newer, more experimental work.

Looking for more?

Learn more about the artist here.

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