What many artists do with paint and canvas and clay Madison-based artist Michael Velliquette does with paper. The results are spectacular. Using strips of brilliantly colored, often hand-painted paper, Velliquette creates complex three dimensional installations that draw the eye with bold geometric shapes and intricate feathered textures. University of Wisconsin’s Lawton Gallery compares his work to the religious symbolism of “a culture devoted to the worship of vivid hues and complex patterning,” while a New York Times article describes it as both “shrinelike” and “reminiscent of party decorations and grade school art projects.” His paper sculptures are deeply evocative of a spiritual experience informed by the tradition of sacred objects, such as masks and icons and totems. Indeed, it is not hard to imagine the installations of his recent exhibit, “ChromaSouls” at the Haggery Museum in Milwaukee as the real idols of a brightly-hued pantheon.
Velliquette’s evocation of sacred relics is all part of his deeper message. While his work does indeed reflect the trans-cultural practice of what he calls “devotional ornamentation,” his paper sculptures are also a direct response to the current cultural and economic environment. Describing his work from 2010-2011, Velliquette states that “In times of crisis, people often turn to religion and faith…As the country was drawing deeper into recession, everything I was hearing in the media was about shortage and scarcity. I wanted my work to express abundance and exuberance, and for the viewer to experience an aesthetic of plenitude.” With its stunning complexity of line, color, shape, and pattern, this is a goal that Velliquette’s work has unarguably achieved.
You can purchase the book Lairs of the Unconscious, a survey of Velliquette’s work here.
Superstition Review is thrilled to feature Michael’s work in Issue 8, which will launch in December 2011.