We can’t get enough of New York- and Miami-based artist & designer Michelle Weinberg. Neither can the world! This year alone (and remember, it’s only May), she has been awarded the prestigious Pollock Krasner Foundation Award, painted a museum mural, is in an exhibition that opens this week at the Frost Museum of Art (Miami) and had an amazing solo exhibition at design sublime. All of this on top of selling her designs all over the world! There are no boundaries to Michelle’s imagination. She creates in many mediums—painting, collage, sculpture, scarfs, rugs, tiles, mosaics, murals, art for architecture and public spaces, and more. Busy as she is, Michelle graciously took the time to chat with us over a cup of coffee.
2016 has been an amazing year for you so far. Do you ever sleep?
I do definitely schedule in some sleep! In the moments before falling asleep and/or when waking, I often have my most interesting ideas.
Is your studio messy or neat?
I really hate wasting time looking for things, so I prioritize order over actual neatness or cleanliness. My studio is a pile of things—I don’t like to hide things away in closets. Seeing things activates my thinking, but it can become visual overload if I don’t watch out.
Do you ever have creative blocks?
I view creative blocks as a message from me to myself that says, “Take time off.” I cultivate fallow periods in which I produce nothing. It’s so necessary—especially when I am creating art in response to a project’s specifications. That requires using the problem-solving part of my brain, and it can be taxing if I don’t allow it to be fun.
Where do you feel most inspired?
I feel most inspired when I’m in my “research and development” mode. This can mean anything from parking myself in an amazing bookstore for as many hours as I feel like, browsing the wonderful chance combinations of things at a thrift store, and especially travel—in which I am disconnected from the familiar.
What do you love about Miami?
I love the combination of tropical and urban. I love rounding the bend of a city street corner and seeing the ocean. Plants and flowers from the tropics are so ripe, have so much personality. I really respond to the porous frontier where the fecundity of tropical flora meets the suave streamlined edges and pastel hues of Deco modernism.
What are some of your favorite places in New York?
I’ve always lived by the water—in New York and in Miami—and I love seeing the changing views afforded by the river. I love walking across the East River bridges. In NY, I love museums best perhaps, going to the same Near Eastern galleries in the Metropolitan Museum that I spent time in as a kid, and also exploring new museums, changing exhibitions. Of course, I love the Strand Bookstore.
What’s good design for you?
Since I come from an art background, I tend not to think about objects of design conforming to any of the beautiful equations, proportions, functionality and more, as outlined by modernist designers and architects. But I believe equally that good design can spring from the imagination and break all of those rules. Anything inspired, unfamiliar, with a sense of humor, that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
I’m proud of making the most that I can from the privilege of being an artist. There are many precarious places in the world to live—at risk, in wartime, in poverty, and I am grateful for being able to work at making art and design, and teaching art and design.