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Michael K. Aakhus

Michael Aakhus is Professor of Art at the University of Southern Indiana and is currently retired as the Dean Emeritus for the College of Liberal Arts.  He was born in Minnesota on the Canadian border and attended Bemidji State University where he earned a BA in Art and Art History.  On completion of his undergraduate work he moved to Edwardsville Illinois across the Mississippi from St. Louis where he received a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking, painting and drawing from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.  In 1976-77 he was the recipient of a grant to continue his creative work with the Roswell Artist in Residence Program where he spent a year painting and making prints in New Mexico. Upon retirement he returned to Roswell and resides at the Historic Studios at Berrendo Road where he continues to paint, make works on paper and experiment with digital images.  His work has been exhibited widely and is represented in many public and private collections throughout the United States as well as other countries. 

His works on paper are assemblages that are put together from found objects as well as prints and digital material.  The work is formal and explores relationships of shape and color but remain playful in bringing imagery and abstract material together.  There is a love of resolving the composition which is an intellectual puzzle that forms on multiple levels.  Color is vibrant and critical to these works enhanced by a dramatic inner vision that focus on elements of the natural world.

Visual content of the paintings is derived from travel experiences that explore a fascination with Latin America as well as cultures from across the world.  The works have been shaped by reading magical realist literature as well as anthropology.  The spaces seem at first logical but you quickly observe irrational special play that forms windows into other realms.  Upon arrival at the Historic Studios in Roswell the paintings have taken on a more surreal and mythic direction.  Images are selected form random and woven together but what is truly random.  Having taught Humanities, art history and the art of Mesoamerica for over thirty years has unquestionably had an impact.  After selecting photographic images which form the content for the drawing a story begins to emerge.  It is an attempt to create a new mythical narrative informed by the juxtaposition of subconsciously selected material.  These emerging narratives are written down as prose poems that will accompany the paintings for exhibition.        

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