Michael Gray is an artist based in Miami, Florida whose works are a documentation of the current state of Florida’s ecological systems being threatened by human action and climate change. Though the work depicts ideological representations of disappearing ecosystems, his works are better understood as documentation of the physical and psychological experiences Gray had encountered in each environment.
Gray uses abstracted form, gesture, repetition, and intuitive mark-making to represent his anxieties of habitat loss, and the degradation of the natural beauty of his home. While exploring his own psychological landscape, Gray’s work addresses the disappearance of coral, the loss of biological life, the uncertain future of our oceans, and the delicate web of natural resources we rely on to survive. Gray has worked throughout South Florida documenting areas of refuge within the Everglades National Park, Atlantic Ocean, and Biscayne Bay. Each location, as Gray sees it, can be a microcosmic representation of life all over the globe. Life, death, and regrowth are important to all-natural cycles, however, his prints, paintings, and images offer a different view of Florida’s ecological systems that require a closer look, and a deeper understanding.
Fish and wildlife have been a favorite subject of artists since humans began creating art. This can be seen in Paleolithic cave paintings to the carvings of the Egyptian civilization to the Flemish paintings of the Baroque period all the way through Modern Art and Contemporary Art. Fish, for example, have evolved as symbols of fertility, Christianity, transformation, and abundance. Gray’s works borrow aesthetics from gyotaku, the Japanese method of creating fish prints, Chinese ink painting, and Western European painting traditions. Aside from creating paintings, Gray employs the use of linocut blocks that get repeated and individually worked throughout his compositions to represent the serial quality of the masses of biological individuals found in various ecosystems. As the prints interact with paint, each print becomes individual, giving them a sense of character, and a sense of decay. Some works rely heavily on representational painting in homage to the still life painting of the 17th century while others adopt formal qualities of cave-paintings in France and Australia to connect to the ancient pulse of humankind. Many of Gray’s works utilize bold, tropical colors to represent elements such as heat, toxins, and algae blooms. Gray also employs deep rich blacks and crisp whites to visually replicate tension and anxiety in an all-encompassing and idealized nature that he has experienced in his explorations.
Michael Gray has lived and worked in Florida for over a decade and has received his MFA from Florida International University. His work has been featured in several publications including Brickell Magazine, Voyage Magazine, and in Through the Renaissance and Now: A Brief History in the Evolution of the Visual Arts.