Michelle Jader, May 2015

May 1, 5-8pm


Michelle Jader

About the Exhibit

The mylar’s slight transparency combined with my expressive and slightly chaotic brushwork, allowed for a layered effect that seemed to vibrate with motion…

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 exploring the beautiful chaos of life’s big changes


The past several months were wrought with anticipation, hope and fear. When the time finally came, there was pain. But once she heard his first cry and he was placed safely in her arms, everything changed. She was flooded with love and the possibilities became endless.


Only a few short months ago he was across country working in another industry. But today the keys to his new home were placed in his hands. The moving truck would arrive later that day, and his new job would start next week.


She found a half-written note. And then a receipt. And then the love letter to another. It was clear what had been done and it meant the dream of growing old together was no longer an option. But what next?


They both looked into each other’s eyes. This was the moment they had imagined so many times, the moment they had played out over and over, but nothing compared to the actual moment they both said, “I do.” They both knew nothing would ever be the same


Whether wanting or not, planned or spontaneous, willingly or forced, change comes to all of us. And the moments that follow are often the most terrifying, exhilarating, painful, beautiful and magnificently enlightening times in our lives.




Sometimes there is no control over our fall – we land where we land. Sometimes we have a choice in the path we take. Sometimes we are led. But in every one of these situations there is a moment of pure vulnerability as we wait for the unknown to be revealed. Multifaceted and layered with countless possibilities, these are the moments INTO THE UNKNOWN uncovers.


To capture the complexity of these transitional moments I explored a new painting process. The first step was to discover a way to capture the figure, the feeling of motion, the emotions we feel during these times, and in particular the feeling of falling. I found this in my models. Using trampoline artists, dancers and gymnasts, I photograph these models as they are mid-fall. Next came adapting my form of oil painting to enable me to layer on several motions and expressions into one piece. This solution materialized by exploration and chance.


Inspiration struck after painting a series of studies on vellum-style mylar and stacking them on each other. The mylar’s slight transparency combined with my expressive and slightly chaotic brushwork, allowed for a layered effect that seemed to vibrate with motion. This is when I realized that developing multiple paintings on individual semi-transparent, acrylic panels and stacking them in front of one another would allow me to convey the chaotically beautiful array of emotions these ever-shifting moments of change evoke. Today, my paintings are anywhere from 2-10 layers deep.




American Art Collector Writes:

Watching a photo shoot for painter Michelle Jader is as fascinating as seeing one of her stunning works. Just as motion and change are driving themes behind her compositions, her real-life subjects do somersaults in the air on trampolines and run and jump in her studio. She often uses dancers, gymnasts and athletes for her works, their nimble bodies captured in multiple acrylic panels that give her layered pieces an everlasting sense of movement. The man in All Turned Around flies in a never-ending aerial flip, the woman in Ready, Set, Go runs with no certainty of where the landing point is, and the lady in Untethered free falls into the unknown, yet has a peaceful, ethereal quality. “My work is about the situations in your life, from moving to starting a new job, that are big transition parts in life,” says Jader, explaining she developed her process of stacking panels to give motion and dimension to her work, marrying the technique with her chaotic brushwork style to give the work a contemporary twist. “You have that moment of vulnerability where you don’t really know what that next step is going to be, and there’s that fogginess inthose transparent panels I work on that make things ambiguous.”



Jader experienced her own substantial change when she decided to get her MFA from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where she resides. She owned a marketing consulting business for 10 years and opened a bar and restaurant in San Francisco, but the art classes she took at night left her desiring more. She calls her decision to get her master’s degree a pivotal moment in her life, and it’s her own experiences with change such as these that helped inspire the title of her exhibition, Into the Unknown, featuring at least 20 works at Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, South Carolina. Robert Lange Studios co-owner Megan Lange says Jader’s personal development is palpable in her work. “In both her personal and artistic life, she has undergone enormous growth, and with each new painting she has sent us, you can see her tackling new challenges, forcing herself to evolve,” Lange says. “Not only is Michelle a fantastic painter, but the multiple layers of resin create movement and depth that is

unachievable on a traditional surface like canvas.”


To create her unique layered pieces, some with up to seven panels in each work, Jader takes images from her photo shoots and extracts their backgrounds, before creating compositions and layering images on top of each other. For her most recent pieces, she gave her models the concepts of “unraveling” and “emerging,” and let them explore the ideas through movement, while snapping multiple camera shots and experimenting with using GoPro cameras in shoots. Jader says the next evolution of her work involves sculptural exploration, evident in her piece All Turned Around. The six acrylic stacked panels can be viewed from both the front and back, and the piece can sit on a shelf. Cohen Wheeler, from Charleston, owns two of Jader’s sculptural paintings, complementary male and female dancers. Wheeler says the uncommon structure of Jader’s works makes them stand out.


“After collecting contemporary art for so many years, it is very hard to be surprised with something unique,” Wheeler says, “but that is just what Jader’s work is: unique.” While her composition may be unique, Jader says her subject matter, the beautiful chaos of life’s big changes, is something any viewer can relate to. She purposely omits faces in a lot of the figures she paints to allow viewers to associate with them. “The artwork I’m creating is something of a very universal theme,” Jader says. “Everybody has gone through change, and there are feelings that go with those changes. There’s that moment where you kind of step off the cliff, and you know change is coming, and you don’t know what to expect. It can be terrifying, exhilarating or wonderful. It’s that ambiguity of life that someone in some way or another can relate to, and I think that’s something that can definitely be interesting for people to see.”


Click here for a Behind the Scenes Video:


Exhibit Images

Opening Night



Robert Lange Studios