Visual Vernacular: Artist Micah Simmons
Micah Simmons, “Being Micah Simmons #1,” 2013 (detail).
Form, feeling, and artistic fortitude are all clearly present in the works of Micah Simmons. Through painting, Simmons has show movement through the inspiration of music while evoking the energy of this companion art form. A towering figure, as intelligent as he is kind, is known for his long-standing residency at Winter Street Studios and has been involved with many exhibitions throughout the city and beyond. Recently, he has taken his signature use of color and figurative work to fashion. A correlation of color and movement, Micah has been creating custom pieces and prints with much success.
Simmons has been painting since he was a child and began seriously dedicating himself to art in 1999. Using acrylics to create his works, he crafted a world of his own away from the health problems that followed him through his youth. He has risen beyond his struggle with being legally blind for many years and has dedicated himself to the growth of his love of art. Getting lost in the fine detail of figurative work trained his hand and his eye, allowing for his love of color to come through.
Music also serves as a major staple to inspiration, using different shades to signify various strokes in his more abstract pieces. The majority of his work is painted to music, allowing for the notes or lyrics to spark an idea, something that is seen in the faces of his subjects. The music continues to lead the piece into the final outcome, becoming a statement of dark beauty, mysterious eyes, and striking lines. One of Simmons’ favorite ways to paint is in front of an audience, creating a similar experience to a musical performance. Energy in style and color come through, leaving the viewer to interpret the stories behind the figures and faces.
“I have many influences when it comes to art,” says Simmons. “I have two major influences that are completely different ends of the spectrum when it comes to art. I started out looking at Rembrandt. He’s one of my favorites. On the other end is Jackson Pollock, mainly for his use of color and the fact that he was innovative in a style of art that was not being done in his time. Overall I really try not to be influenced by too much in the modern sense. If anything it’s more about concepts and making my own style.”
In more recent times, Simmons has been transitioning from traditional mediums into clothing with great ease. Slightly altering his technique from canvas to fabric, Simmons has been able to capture the vibrancy and delicacy of detail into his original shirts. To keep up with the demand, he has been hand painting screens to do larger batches of shirts. Each shirt still signifies the mood and colorful tonality of Simmons work.
“The fashion circle is new to me,” states Simmons. “Really all of this is kind of interesting because I am fine art artist and in the past most of my thoughts used to be about selling work on the wall. Once I decided to take the art and put it on an article of clothing and it was like a whole new outlook on just me paining alone. It’s interesting to see the reactions of people who know that I’m an artist but I’ve never really paid attention to my work until now when it showed up on a T-Shirt.”
“I think it’s really cool and I like fashion. That’s not to say that I won’t stop painting traditionally as I stated earlier. Fashion is just kind of an extension of the many mediums of art that I use. I still have aspirations of doing big gallery shows. Fashion is not just one of the many facets of my art career.”