January 20, 1948 - January, 13 2016
Michael Mew grew up in the metropolis of Los Angeles when suburban living was altering American popular culture. In the neighborhoods where he was raised, alleys ran behind the houses to service trash pickups, affording him his first opportunities to collect discards and cast-offs.
After completing his degree, Mew’s attraction to found objects turned him into a flea market disciple. He used his weekend treasure hunts to accumulate an impressive archive that became the source for assemblage art he created in the tradition of Joseph Cornell. Mew’s assemblage work contained the motifs that had influenced his art studies and his upbringing: Cornelian constructs of birds and star charts, ornate Victorian valentines mixing images of war and Catholic martyrdom with broken romance, and meditations on science and biology.
When Mew turned to collage work in 1994 he carried many of these themes into two-dimensional media, adding elements from 20th century popular culture like magazines pages, comic books, and advertisements. In layering digital print technology with painting and rendering, he has synthesized a new formal approach that integrates a range of paired opposites: modern and postmodern sensibilities, low and high culture, play and critique.
Mew has wryly observed that his collection of images comes from “an untidy place in my subconscious.“ His ongoing interest in science, astronomy, world religion, and alchemy all play a part in the way his layered compositions fall together. Mew’s fascination with surrealism, which originated during his college studies, led him to compose using loose associations that arise from his working process. Accumulating images, he trusts these subconscious connections to jell into lyrical, often pointed narratives with intricate and cohesive internal connections.
Michael passed away peacefully on January 13, 2016 ending a six year battle with a brain tumor that turned malignant. He was making art up until the end and in his words "having a great time!" He will be missed by his family and all who knew him. We have lost a kind mand and a brilliant artst. He lives on in his work.