Known for her powerful and elegant work, Michelle Torrez's expressionistic oil paintings of figures are vivid and painterly. But on closer examination, there are qualities that are not obvious: Michelle communicates the beauty of unlikely emotions.
Michelle qualifies her work as "In my paintings, I am trying to communicate the feeling of a place. Everywhere I look, I see flashes of color. The flashes of color come through me to represent the culture, the environment, the personality of that person and surroundings. I want to capture life and movement because life is movement, and with movement you have life. My paint dances across the canvas, because I hope to express the sanctity of life with a powerful figure on my canvas."
Michelle Torrez believes that the greatest influences on her work were the circumstances of her childhood and teenage years. Her life has influenced her to look deeper to find the beauty and humanity in people and places. Even at an early age, she knew she was an artist.
Born in Denver, Colorado, Michelle was the oldest of four children from a working class family. Caring for her younger siblings while her parents worked, she would sit on the porch and draw to pass the time. The other children would come around to watch, and art soon became a way of making friends for her. Instead of playing with other children, she drew them on the computer paper her father brought home from his job at IBM.
Her art became a survival skill in a rough and urban junior high school, where Michelle entertained even the toughest girls by drawing pictures of naked men. By the age of 13 she was painting and selling black light posters, and found herself drawn to the work of Andy Warhol, Peter Max, and the Spanish painters Diego Velásquez and Salvador Dalí.
Rebelliousness and the artistic spirit often go hand in hand. Michelle was living on her own by the age of 15, married at 17, the mother of two by 20, and divorced by 23. As a single parent, she was forced to find ways to use her talent to support her family.
Michelle studied passive solar architectural design and attended the Colorado Institute of Art where she was at the top of her class. She graduated in 1987 with an Associates Degree in Advertising Design.
In Dallas, she worked as an art director for an advertising agency, and began to explore the medium of sculptural jewelry. After returning to her native Colorado, she continued a career in advertising until 1994 when she formed a mural painting company, Studio M. Her murals appear in private residences and companies throughout Colorado. Currently, she is a full-time artist living in Denver. In recent years, she has continued to explore her medium with the Denver Art Students League, studying with artists Kim English, Dale Chisman and Quang Ho.
Michelle was invited to join First Lady Laura Bush at a White House reception honoring the 40th Anniversary of the Art in Embassies Program in May 2004. Two of her oil paintings are on exhibit at Ambassador James W. Pardew's residence in Sofia, Bulgaria under the aegis of the State Department's Art in Embassies Program. Michelle visited Sofia in February 2003 as part of the Art in Embassies Program's American Artists Abroad initiative; where she met with Bulgarian artists and students.
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February 2014: One Woman Show At Shaw Gallery
February 2009: One Woman Show at Shaw Gallery of Naples, FL
February 2007: One Woman Show at Shaw Gallery of Bonita Springs, FL
January 2007; Who's Who in the World
January 2007; Mizel Museum, Denver CO - Artists interpret genocide
December 2006; Who's Who in the World
December 2005: Who's Who of American Women
September 2005: Represent The West, Sange DeCristo Arts Center, Pueblo, CO
May 2005: Long Beach Museum of Art
January 2005: One Woman Show at Shaw Gallery of Naples, FL
August 2004: Art Institute of Color - Hall of Fame Induction (youngest artist to be inducted into the Hall)
April 2004: Governor's Invitational Art Show
May 2003: Boulder Weekly Artflash
February 2003: Art In Embassies Program; Sofia, Bulgaria