…As the Puppet Turns…Interview with Artist Michelle Connolly

…As the Puppet Turns… Delving into the lives of the puppeteers (and artists!)… Installment #5:  Artist & Curator of “Puppet Parlour” Exhibit, Michelle Connolly interviewed by Gina Gambony

I met Michelle Connolly a year and a half ago when we were both selling our wares at the local Art for the Masses event.  When I had a break, I wandered around checking out all the GREAT ART-and I was immediately drawn to Michelle and her work.  I think I bought my first Connolly piece that very day.   When I started gathering local resources for the festival last year, I knew Michelle needed to be involved.  Her contribution is fantastic-a juried exhibit of all kinds of art related to puppetry:  Puppet Parlour at ACME Art Studios.

GG: Gooood evening Michelle!

MC:  Goooood Evening Gina! Excited to be here with you!

GG:  Tell me how you came to Wilmington, you are originally from some other English-speaking places?

MC:  We-me, my husband Steve, and our boys, Aidan and Rory- moved to Wilmington in April 2007 with a secondment for Steve at GE. we were meant to be here 2 years but its been extended …Steve and I are originally from England, we moved to Sydney from UK with my software job, I was an Oracle consultant. Both our boys are Australian born .. so we moved here from Sydney Australia. We are all Australian Citizens ..funny both boys now have American southern accents.

GG:  That’s very funny, I hope to meet your boys sometime. I bet they have very…interesting accents with all the combination of things!

MC:  Yes they are a lot of fun you’d like them .. Aidan is a born performer!

GG:  Were you making art in Australia before you came to Wilmington?

MC:   I did art in Sydney but have been working as full time artist since moving here and having my studio at ACME.

GG:  Has the Wilmington art scene helped your art blossom? Because you are so incredibly prolific!

MC:  I love being here in Wilmington, so many creative people here, I have met so many great artists and musicians who have inspired me, encouraged me and supported me. I do produce a lot of work, it’s the way I like to work on many pieces at a time, to keep the spontaneity, I am an ideas person and so the ideas are always flowing.  It’s hard for me to slow down.

GG:  You have been a great addition to our arts scene. I really love the energy in your work, it’s like you don’t have the “inner critic” stopping you, you just pour it out!

MC:  ACME has been a blessing to me, given me a place to work and a good art community to relate to, I love working there.  I like being bold and daring and trying new things.  You too have inspired me with this Puppet thing, I have puppets running through my mind now!

GG: I contacted you early in the festival process because of your energy and ideas, and the content and themes of your work just fit so well with the puppet festival. I know you will have some puppets jumping out from your brain and fingertips.

MC:  Yes, I do like characters and performance, comedy and theatre. These come into my work a lot … I wanted to be a Clown when I was kid!

There has been a brilliant response to the Puppets Parlour show at ACME, lots of artists are now sending in their work. It’s great to see that energy grow, it all started from that meeting last year, thanks for sparking it off with us all!

GG:  The idea for the ACME exhibit is so fantastic, to include the theme of puppetry into all forms of art, to bring in artists of all ilks to the creative expression of puppetry!

MC:  It’s been really magical to see the interest grow. Thanks to the WHQR radio interview, we have submissions coming in from all over now.

GG:  Tell me details about the exhibit.

MC:  The exhibit will be selected from the submissions received by June 16, 2010.  Fritzi Huber and Michael Van Hout will help review the body of work.  The criteria is that the work fits in the space and is related to the world of puppets.

The exhibition will be held at ACME (711 Nth 5th Ave Wilmington NC 28401).

Opening reception: Saturday, 10 July 6:00-9:00 pm, with live music, live performance, projected film, and artwork, of course.

Michael and ACME volunteers will hang the show, so work has to be ready to display, wired etc, and, if necessary, with instructions on hanging.

GG:  Any ideas for submissions you have heard that you’d like to share?

MC:  David Hervey from Cosmic Groove Lizards has submitted some brilliant Rock Star Puppets-they are wonderful.  We had a call from a man in Burgaw whose sons work for Bread & Puppet and he wants them to show some of their work.  He says his house is full of puppetabilia.

GG:  Oh wow, I know those boys! I worked with them when Bread & Puppet was here in 2008. Fantastic.

MC:   Yes, Ross the Dad said he knew you and Fritzi, he heard me on the radio and was very excited!

GG: We really wanted to get Bread & Puppet here to perform for the festival, but July is a very busy time for them.  [But-Cameron Art Museum is exhibiting selected works from Bread & Puppet as part of their “PuppetArt” exhibition, opening on July 15.]

MC:  Sounds like these guys have a lot of things at their Dad’s house that would be great as part of the group show.

Then we have other entries, some great paintings of puppets, some collaborative works underway by Photographers and Artists, etc.

GG:  Aside from the Opening on July 10, ACME will be open for visitors on Saturday, July 17 as well, for the festival?

MC: Yes, ACME will be open to the public on Saturday, July 17 from 11:00am-2:00pm, and again for the locals who missed the openings on our 4th Friday gallery night Friday, July 23, 6:00-9:00 pm so we have 3 openings .. not bad eh?!

GG:  Excellent! Now I don’t mean to pry…but…I just KNOW you are or will be doing something for this exhibit. I’m curious…

MC:  Mmmmm .. yep several works underway.  Can never work on just the one…small puppet creations inspired by found objects, shells, broken brushes, scraps found around my messy studio. I am creating Puppet characters, they are multiplying over time.

I am not sure where it will take me as I love to paint and draw and may end up using these chaps as still life props for my final work, but enjoying playing with them at the moment.  Endless ideas … ahhhhhh.

GG:  Just keep them flowing!

All you artists out there inspired by this project, submit pictures via email to marsconnolly@gmail.com by June 16!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. william
    Jun 11, 2010 @ 21:19:53

    michelle is brilliant.


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