Michael Kalisz

Why is the material you are using important to your work?

I don’t usually stick to a specific medium or material within my work. I have always been a fan of the trial and error that comes with entering unknown territory so I try to experiment with new techniques and materials as frequently as possible. I think the process of material selection is centered around how the material will serve my chosen narrative. I often flip back and forth between drawing and sculpture depending on what I’m choosing to focus on. I tend to lean toward drawing when I feel that the two-dimensionality of a subject is of great importance, however, I move toward sculpture when I’m interested in dealing with scale and spatial relationships.

What is your favorite color? And why?

I am unable to pick a favorite color. I find myself drawn to most colors as I feel that colors have an interesting ability to provoke certain feelings of nostalgia and memory that I am interested in exploring. Color palettes that reference a certain vintage or retro aesthetic also seem to find their way into my work. That being said, I've always been partial to blue.

Who or what is “Mighty Mike”?

“Mighty Mike” is a developed persona that is a commodified and packaged version of myself; complete with his t-shirt, jeans, and glasses; that serves as a self-critical and humorous self-portrait series. With “Mighty Mike”, I’m placing myself into the role of the archetypal male hero: categorizing myself alongside G.I Joe, Batman, and many other examples of a post-war masculine identity. However, “Mighty Mike” subverts this definition and pokes holes into the masculine façade, hence revealing my own insecurities and personal fears, and providing my audience with an intimate portrait of the artist behind their creation. I want to question that which constitutes fame, and if fame must be earned or if it can be forced through overexposure and unavoidability. I would argue that a heavy majority of global society could immediately recognize the logos and design language that characterize superhero culture. What I want to ask is if the reason we so easily recognize these symbols is merely because it has been spread through countless films, television shows, and merchandise. Using the persona of “Mighty Mike”, I hope I can replicate this level of recognition on a smaller scale while also subverting the masculine ideal through humorous and vulnerable self-portraits.