Aker Imaging Gallery is proud to present “Will Michels: Recent Work”. Native Houstonian Will Michels graduated with honors in 1991 from Pratt Institute, with a degree in architecture. Then he consciously began to explore fine art photography. His focus over the last 20 years has covered a variety of subjects all centering on portraiture starting with a series of introspective self - portraits. He currently lives in Houston, Texas working at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where he teaches young aspiring photographers.
Will’s very personal work has been a series of studies (what he calls his nudes) of the male figure and a series of Portrait Busts in the classical style of the regal marble busts he observed while studying in Rome. Similar to his earlier self-portraits, the artist uses photography as an antidote in Studies. Following a nightmare on November 3, 1996, the artist replaced the dream’s memory with images.
“My dream was a disturbing combination of beautiful, religious iconography and torture from the Middle Ages. I was both the observer and the victim. I woke up with a start in a cold sweat; the sheet stuck to my back. The next night while I was out playing pool, I met someone whose botched appendectomy looked just like one of the marks of Christ as it appears in Paintings. I felt compelled to ask him if I could photograph it. Oddly, the resulting nudes replaced the memory of my dream. I’ve been using those initial images as my foundation for these
studies ever since.”
Madeline Yale Preston, curator and artist, in an essay about the works wrote that “Like in his dream, the artist creates dichotomies. Contrasting symbols of Medieval and religious, brutish body hair and flowers, Beauty and pain and Masculine and feminine emerge in the images. Deviating from his earlier environmental portraiture style, Will began a series of portrait Busts in 2024.”
Primarily influenced by the regal marble busts he adored while studying in Rome. Akin to classical relics, the heroic figures in Will’s Portrait Busts are suspended between life and immortality. The sitters, shirtless in front of neutral backgrounds become almost larger than life in these simple compositions.
Will explained. “I concentrated on the texture of skin, hair, facial expressions, quality of light and the simple way the subject fills the frame. My intent is to produce a quiet, introspective and moody portrait, essentially a reflection of myself.”