My name is Michelle Carrasquilla, I am an artist and teacher from the northern suburbs of Chicago. I grew up in the Chicagoland area and recently moved to Seattle Washington where I teach high school art.
I received my education from The University of Iowa and Northern Illinois University. I received a Bachelor's in Art education along with a Type 10 K-12 certification. In addition I have a Masters of Fine Art from The School of the Art Institute Of Chicago.
I believe the root of human nature is that we have a desire to know and to be known. However, in todays’ social media rampant world we as a society have modernised this into something so much more complex, dangerous, fascinating and problematic. It has evolved to wanting to see and be seen. I am fascinated by the idea that the facade or the superficial is our new system for validation as a species. New generations are growing into adulthood in an era where they are crafting tropes as representations of themselves. My work integrates my observations navigating this epidemic that masquerades as reality.
The things I make to this point are based on a series of fascinations and observations through my lived experiences as a highschool teacher, working in the beauty industry and ultimately growing into womanhood in an era where our images are perfectly sculpted through a lense and filtered onto a screen.
This concentration of work accumulated when I previously worked as an esthetician and makeup artist. I would watch women for hours apply makeup and stare at themselves in the mirror. Each woman would make a “mirror face”. They would enhance their features in some way to emulate how they wished their face was viewed. That’s how they saw their “ideal” self. This was a moment of perfection that only lasted while they watched. This moment has been popular in more recent years and we now know it as the “selfie” phenomenon. I have become fascinated with how people interact with this perception of themselves. As a high school teacher I find many of my ideas and fascinations as of late come from watching young girls and youth in general. How do mirrors shape us? How do these formative moments of perception impact a whole generation in a totally new way? Being a teenager today is harder than ever with the impact of social media and the presence of new lenses on these developing people. I am fascinated with the facade. The social media culture pulls us to constantly create and recreate ourselves. Turning ourselves into more and more complex personas. I am interested in how we are watched and viewed.
I have learned that art is transformative. It allows me to personally shed these skins and allow myself to be seen bare-faced. My work is inspired by youth, feminism, beauty, fashion photography, makeup, mental health and portraiture. I am interested in manipulating facades through duplicating the façade, hyperfocusing, dressing up, role playing the figure, and literally painting the figure. Currently I am painting large-scale kaleidoscopic paintings and staging installations with LED. How can painting exist in the modern world? I aim to blur the traditional medium and use conjugated art making processes.
My current body of work explores kaleidoscopic subjectivity as a reality of female survival. Like a trojan horse this performance facilitates survival as we transform ourselves through masking and compartmentalization into personas. These personas manifest as created facades shaped from a history of performance so we will not become what we mean to the societal norms we have constructed. In my work I form each portrait to develop intuitively and offer a simultaneity of scripts: made-up and undone, beauty and imperfection, concealed and revealed, order and chaos, revelation and distortion. I want my work to challenge this by presenting a dichotomy between seduction and repulsion that aims to blur fixed and external representations of the female facade. I am interested in the flaws in these narratives and seek beauty references that misrepresent and complicate conceptions of femininity. I aim to capture moments of vulnerability and contention: failures in an otherwise unassailable armor we know as the made up face. I'm interested in playing with the line between perception and reality. Where is the line between hyper realism and abstraction? Can versa multitude be an abstraction? Can real be abstract? It seems to be this way with personas. So much more than surface. Much more complex and refracted then the reality we are presented.
Master of Fine Arts
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Bachelors of Science in Arts and Education;
Type 10 Certification
Northern Illinois University
University of Iowa
Tricocci University of Beauty Culture
Chicagoland 4x5, Oswego HS (Oswego, IL) 2019
North Suburban Arts Conference Organizer, 2019
Wet Paint Biennial, Zhou B Art Center (Chicago, IL) 2018
Public Mural (Chicago, IL) 2018
MFA Exhibition, Sullivan Gallery(Chicago, IL) 2017
Dandelion Collective Member (Waukegan, IL) 2017-18
Emerging Artist Show, Morpho Gallery (Chicago, IL) 2018
Art Wauk, Dandelion Gallery (Waukegan, IL) 2017
Low Impact// Pop Up Show; Curator and Organizer
Low Impact// Show, Throop Studios (Chicago, IL) 2016
Art Educator Showcase, Bridgeport Art Center (Chicago, IL)
2016, 2017, 2018 Honorable Mention
SAIC Open Studios (Chicago, IL) 2015, 2016, 2017
Ox Bow Open Studios (Saugatuck, MI) 2016
School Murals (Zion, IL) 2016
I believe that to educate is to become educated. It is a circle that never ends. It is the circle I love. I truly believe that life is a journey not a destination and on that journey we learn and adapt constantly. I am a teacher educator because I want to change the world. More specifically, I believe art can change the world. I have seen art challenge norms, highlight the margins, influence society by changing opinions, instilling values and translating experiences across space and time. Art in this sense is communication; it allows people from different cultures and different times to communicate with each other via images, actions, sounds and stories. In today’s divisive world, I truly believe art is the ultimate vehicle for change. Coupled with education, art and education are revolutionary powers for change. While I realize what I hope to accomplish is limited, I know education is where I can have the greatest impact. I want my students to understand that the professional world they will inhabit, the school, is not immutable. As future teachers and makers they can make a difference. I believe my greatest gift as an educator is to empower students and to mentor artists.
In my teaching above all I strive to be reflective and constantly change, adapt to new ideas and pedagogical approaches, technologies, methods and to always have a growth mindset. With every class comes a new group of students and a new experience, which is unique. This involves differentiated teaching and teaching to equity over equality. I strive to be transparent in my teaching and dealing with students and peers. In my interactions with students and peers I strive to be respectful even when opinions differ, accepting non closure. My teaching philosophy has both traditional and radical roots, and rests, finally, on making myself not so much an expert in my field, but a partner in learning. I strive to care and know my students while constantly building relationships and trust. As an educator of the arts, I want to push students to think critically about art as an evolving interdisciplinary force and develop at least an appreciation for it, if not a deep passion. It is my desire to be the catalyst to allow others to full-fill their dreams, “those who can, do... those who care, teach.” Although I can do as well, I feel caring is the distinguishing factor that separates good teachers from great teachers. I desire to be a great teacher.
A pedagogic philosophy such as mine demands that my teaching style be highly interactive, engaging students in a dialogue, and often putting students into dialogue with each other. I strive to structure my teaching around my students’ needs, rather than the demands of a particular concept or text. When I develop a syllabus or a lesson plan, for example, I always begin by asking myself what my students should know and be able to do at the end of the class, and then move on to designing the actual class content. I also adjust my curriculum as I teach, adapting to the needs and passions of my students and each class differently.
It is a priority for my class to be a safe place for all my students to feel welcome and included. I find that an open exchange between students and teachers and among students themselves can only take place when the instructor provides structure and direction while modeling. Students need a clear idea of what is expected of them in the classroom and in their assignments. I always provide students with a detailed policy statement, a syllabus, a daily agenda and an outline of class objectives on the board at the beginning of every class. Working from essential questions, I make every effort to make my assignments clear and concise, to provide examples of the assignment, to inform students of the criteria by which I will grade the assignment, and to teach quick sessions on problems I believe my students might encounter in fulfilling the assignment. Throughout the work process, I provide constant feedback and critique to make each students’ process individualized, challenging each student separately. In short, I do everything I can to create a dependable structure within which my students can take the risks that are necessary to their intellectual, conceptual and technical development and independence.
More broadly, I feel it is my job to not only prepare students for a life of constant bombardment of imagery but to teach students how to look beyond the surface and see an idea, an agenda and to analytically decipher the world around them. In my teaching I will strive to help students cultivate original thought, develop analytical and creative problem-solving skills, evaluate, critique and articulate ideas. In addition it is a priority to guide students in identifying their own experience as unique in an increasing global society and to improve tolerance and appreciation of different theories and ideas as well as diverse cultures. Students have the ability through creativity and critical thinking to think up revolutionary ideas and create pathways to success. It is everyday people that analytically view culture and the world around them and look beyond the seen, that truly change the world and make a name for themselves in history. Our students will be the forward thinkers of tomorrow if they are inspired to think critically and visually decipher more than what is obvious in their surroundings through the discipline of visual culture and the study of art. I strive to teach art making materials, tools and techniques, encourage divergent solutions to problems, foster visual literacy, and provide an understanding and appreciation of past and contemporary visual culture. I desire to encourage students to experiment, push boundaries and question everything. There will be no solutions in my class, because nothing is ever done. Learning is never a product it is will always be a process, one that never ends, encouraging students to fall in love with research and individualized instruction. Intrinsic motivation will lead discussions and fill the room. Students will be encouraged to respond to life and to bring their stories, past, present and future into the class community.
As a practicing artist it is as important to be a relevant and a practicing maker saturated in the art community. I bring my professional experiences into the classroom, not just as theory, but as the practical knowledge and skills gained through mentorship and professional practice. Having a strong base of knowledge and experiences are a good starting point for my philosophy of teaching, however I feel that a willingness to be flexible and let my philosophy evolve is important. My teaching is informed by my personal and professional growth and therefore I strive to be well versed in new developments in the field, to be an ongoing participant in the art community, and actively exhibiting my artwork. I am constantly seeking new information, new methods and contemporary art practice in my career while building my own skill and passion. It is important to me to connect to the larger community of makers and bring that into my teaching. Teaching is a central part of my development as an academic. In addition, I want to be part of a unified collaboration and coalition of educators dedicated to pushing boundaries and being professionally relevant in our respective fields. This means practicing subject and developing as makers through research and tapping into the field at large internationally and locally.
In conclusion, as a teacher and artist, I am dedicated to the teaching of art as an integral component of an education in the humanities. It is my passion to build artists. My philosophy of teaching is anchored by a personal goal to be a lifelong learner, consistently improving and evolving my pedagogy through student mentorship, acting as a guide while also being a listener, and leading as a role model in and out of the classroom. I do not subscribe to the “one size fits all” school of teaching but teach to the needs of my students. Building and promoting community is an imperative component to my pedagogy. With this evolving knowledge base I can assure my students they are receiving the best possible education I can offer. These are the things that separate a good teacher from a great teacher. I desire to be a great teacher.