MEET THE ARTIST: Christi Birchfield

Name:  Christi Birchfield

Born:  1983, Cleveland

Lives and works: Cleveland

In the region:
I grew up on the west side of Cleveland.  I attended college at the Cleveland Institute of Art where I received by BFA in Printmaking.

Rock, Rocky, Rock-esque, Rock out.

What is it about rocks that makes them so compelling? We collect, sort, classify, prize, and imitate them. The pitted surface of Harris Johnson’s Rock (2014) is almost convincingly rock-esque. This sculptural imitation employs papier mache and modeling paste to convey heft and density.

A musing on black holes (inspired by Harris Johnson's work)

Harris Johnson’s painting Black Hole (2015) addresses the bizarre scientific concept of the same name, a concept that is strange and fraught with existential paradox. Calling something a “hole” implies that it is an empty space; a void, a vacuum, an absence. And to our human eyes, that’s what black holes look like: they’re black, empty circles; they are points in the sky where the stars have been erased and nothing is left behind to see. But scientifically speaking, that understanding is patently false.

unspecifically pissed off

Harris Johnson’s American Ramble is a stream-of-consciousness text painting directly on the gallery wall. As you read it, a growing sense of anxiety takes over, a kind of tidal wave of boredom, violence, and hopelessness. And yet, in league with Johnson’s other work, it also manages to somehow be funny. Not “funny Ha-Ha” but terribly funny: satirical, flippant, and sharp.

MEET THE ARTIST: Harris Johnson

Meet How to Remain Human artist Harris Johnson. Throughout this week the Remain Human blog will continue to focus on this artist:

Born: 1986

Lives and works: Just relocated from Richmond, VA and to Brooklyn, NY

Regional connections:

Grew up in Columbus, attended the Cleveland Institute of Art (BFA, 2009)


Self-Portrait (1983)

I really can’t get How to Remain Human artist Mary Ann Aitken's Self-Portrait (1983) out of my mind. The artist floats in a rough black field, a turbulent void. She wears her red painting robe, donned in the studio to protect her clothes from paint. In the painting, it protects her from the void. Compact and raw, her features are indistinct (two merged, bluish dots, a glob of dirty blonde) but her presence and energy are strongly felt.

Meet the Artist: Mary Ann Aitken

Mary Ann Aitken was an extremely private artist, who rarely exhibited her work during her lifetime. Her close friend Ed Fraga, wrote a text on Aitken for the How to Remain Human catalog. This excerpt from Ed’s text is a beautiful introduction to Mary Ann and the life that she led: dedicated to her art and the people closest to her.

Brick Love

Bricks are a visual element that Michelangelo Lovelace Sr. returns to often in his paintings. He fell in love with the textures of the city as a child growing up in different housing projects in Cleveland—which were always brick. The colors of the bricks often reflect the mood and events in his paintings.

P-Funk Party (1999)

Michelangelo Lovelace Sr. paints the range of human experience, from the realities of urban poverty to everyday activities like shopping and backyard parties. P-Funk Party (1999) depicts a Parliament Funkadelic concert that the artist painted from memory. Revelers throw their bodies around in wild abandon, you can feel the heat coming off the room.

A studio visit with Michelangelo Lovelace

I first met Michelangelo Lovelace in the spring of 2014. His home studio in Lakewood is chock full of paintings—they cover every wall and are stacked 5 deep in his garage and basement studio. Lovelace has been painting for over 30 years, making as much time for the studio as possible.