About the Artist
Chief Executive Officer
The Shadow Behind..
Mental illness runs deep in Michael's family, especially on their father's side (paranoia, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders). The disease is a shadow that followed them throughout their entire life.
Michael's father struggled hard with his inner demons. This mixed with religion created a nightmarish cult-like atmosphere- extremely abusive at times.
"I rebelled hard during my teenage years- mostly against organized religion but my love for Art and Creative Writing (although present in my earlier years) really manifested out of this rebellion."
Michael completed their first art and poetry journal in 2004 titled “!Aviso! La Biblia Negra!”- an account of an angsty, anti-establishment, anti-religious, 16 year old- rebelling through self discovery and by embracing their darker side rather than being repentant.
"By writing this journal, I was able to express myself creatively; and was able to let years of built-up anger, anxiety, and depression manifest itself on paper instead of deep inside me."
In August of 2005, Michael was attending and taking Art and Writing Classes at Elaine P. Nunez College when Hurricane Katrina destroyed their town, home, and all of their artwork to that date. It was a devastating blow. But the worst and most significant life-changing factor was that their father passed away because of this storm.
"My father and I didn't always see eye to eye and we didn't have the greatest relationship prior to this point but his senseless death left me scarred... There is a constant tug between becoming and not becoming my father- a battle to embrace the good while recognizing, correcting or simply rejecting his faults. When he passed away, I was given responsibility to discover alone."
After the storm, they relocated to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for a few years where they felt they had lost their creativity in the process. Alcohol and the use of pain killers became a routine part of their life.
They did a lot of writing during this time but not too much art- completing their second poetry journal "The Gray" during this time- highlighting his battles with depression and addiction as well as the overwhelming feeling of being isolated and lost- having to find their way through early adult years.
In 2008, Michael gave up heavy drinking and the use of pain killers. They moved around a bit from Florida to Mississippi to their current state of New York.
"I've sort of become a pilgrim person-roaming about. I joke and say I am still searching for a place to call home. I've had a lot of joyous moments in my life but no matter where I may roam now or in the future, home is really where your family is safe. My heart, however, will always belong to New Orleans. I miss the smell of Gardenia flowers and King Cake cinnamon, the colorful sights of Mardi Gras, and the taste of creole dinners. Who knows? One day I just may return."
Throughout all the moving and rebuilding, picking up the shattered pieces of their life, one thing was important to Michael- education. No matter what city he moved to or what dead-end job they took to pay bills; continuing their education was vital.
"Even though my creativity and artwork was put on hold, I still wanted to have a career in a field that involved art, to some extent or another, so I decided to go into drafting and design."