Michael Hall
My work is concerned with the dynamics between control and protection, and how we sacrifice one for the other in order to feel safe. Relationships, whether personal, social or political, are created around these underlying needs and decisions. My past work has explored these concepts with imagery and themes based on the military, found photographs, and animal behavior. The images I choose operate as a visual metaphor, for a specific location or action that resides in the grey area between control and protection.

Recently, I expanded these concepts beyond 2-D paintings by creating sculptural obstacles known as “participatory paintings”. Each piece uses the language and basic materials of painting (i.e. canvas, wood, paint, line, color, etc.), and are modeled after a military training course. The work merges military and painterly aesthetics and challenges the viewer/participant to compete in a controlled environment of physical and creative problem solving. As participants move through the course and physically interact with the obstacles/artworks, they modify the pieces with mark-making implements.

Being raised in a military family and living on Marine bases across the country and oversees I developed a fondness for military aesthetics. The fastidious but efficient means by which houses, offices, recreation areas and training grounds were designed and built. I remember my father’s drab camouflage alight with a flash of colorful ribbons, standardized office furniture – the same no matter where we were, and watching platoons train on beaches just down the shore from where our family was having a picnic. Those experiences and aesthetics have continued to stick with me and have progressively informed my work.

Hall was awarded a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant in 2010, and has held recent solo exhibitions at venues including Patricia Sweetow Gallery, Southern Exposure, and the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, Rental Gallery, San Francisco; and Blankspace Gallery, Oakland. His work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, at venues including Swarm Gallery, LoBot Gallery, 21 Grand, Oakland; Ore Projectz, San Francisco; and New Image Art Gallery, Los Angeles. Hall received his BFA from the California College of the Arts, and his MFA from Mills College.

He was born in San Diego, California to military parents and has lived around the world in Japan, Russia, England, and France among others. For the past eight years he has worked at Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland where he began the first video production class for artists with developmental disabilities. He also teaches painting at Mills College in Oakland and is a curator at Southern Exposure in San Francisco.