Much of my work revolves around subjects that are typically unacknowledged—weathered and decaying walls, residual buildup, reflections in building windows, puddles, sunspots, and blank signs. These are all things that are constantly evolving or changing, some predictable and some not, depending on when or where you look at them from. The elusive state of these subjects is what I find so compelling, but I often end up finding resonance in the hidden ‘messages’ that are conveyed through these encounters.
These objects are not passive; they are given a voice beyond what I am able to attach to them—a voice disguised under a veil of ‘beauty’ and ‘divinity’ to address the ugly parts of the world that are seemingly unacknowledged by those in power. In context, this ‘beauty’ is functioning as a tool to call attention to these neglected objects; to encourage the viewer to engage with objects that would typically be regarded as insignificant.
The work that I create is very much in parallel with my identity and experience. I find myself resonating with these objects as if they are living, conscious beings, almost as if these objects are physical manifestations of my inner emotional distress in the attempt to find a sense of belonging both within myself, and as a member of the present tense.
Michael Kwan is a Minnesota born Asian-American with roots in Vietnam and China. Their work focuses on the intricacies of the things we pay little regard to as we move past them throughout our daily lives—weathered walls, reflections in building windows, blank signage—and pulls narratives about identity and psychological tendencies of the human experience through dynamic compositions of these otherwise unacknowledged instances. Within their work, there is a very strong sense of duality in both its meaning and its roots, which stems from this perspective as an Asian-American and the sense of displacement attached to both of these identities.
While Kwan primarily works within the medium of photography, their work is very much influenced by other media, with compositions informed by abstract painting and collage, and contextualized with an interest in poetry and music. While their music and writing are regarded as separate entities from their visual art practice, its influence within their visual work is undeniable.
Kwan was born and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota where they have exhibited in several local galleries including New Rules, Vine Arts Center, and the University of Minnesota’s Regis West Gallery. They are currently working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art with a minor in Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and will be graduating with a degree in the spring of 2020.
2020 - BA, Art, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
2016 - HS Diploma, Main Street School of Performing Arts, Hopkins, MN
2019 - 5th Annual Sustunes, UMN Twin Cities Learning and Environmental Sciences Building, St. Paul, MN
2019 - Half Sky | Half Bones, Regis West Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
2019 - Artifice, Regis West Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
2019 - Trash The Garden, Vine Arts Center, Minneapolis, MN
2019 - Thaw, New Rules, Minneapolis, MN
2019 - What Makes You Feel Human?, Trash Mag
2019 - Matter of Time, Vacant Museum, vacantmuseum.com