Hello, my name is Michael Owens. I’m a fifty year old African American contemporary artist. Despite my age I’m relatively new to the art game even though I’ve dreamed of being a professional artist my whole life. Over the years I’ve held a variety of jobs;dental assistant, factory worker, farm laborer, civil drafter, architecture student and the list goes on. Some of these experiences were good, while some of them sucked. I can truthfully say that I learned something valuable each and every time. Life experience plays a huge role in my work. So you could say I was busy learning my future craft. While holding these jobs I never totally abandoned the dream, but didn’t do much to make it happen either.
Like most of us I was afraid to pursue my dreams. I suffered from several fears: fear of
failure, fear of the unknown, fear of starvation, fear of rejection and not knowing how or where to begin. But the main reason was thinking that I’ll never be good enough, at least not good enough to actually earn a living as an artist. At one point I was tempted to quit because I didn’t see a future in it for me. Making art seemed like a big waste of time. Let me say again I never stopped loving art I just wasn’t sure it would ever love me back.
Since childhood social/ political art has been my favorite. As a small child I remember reading an illustrated storybook about the life of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. I have no idea where it came from nor could I locate it now, but I can’t tell you how much that book helped to inspire a love of history and art that survives tothis day. In those pages I could feel his thirst for knowledge and his love of freedom, the two things that drive my work today. However politics is not the only thing that inspires me. I find inspiration in my family, my community, people I’ve met and places I’ve been. My artistic heroes include well known contemporary African American artists like Kehinde Wiley, Michael Ray Charles, and Kara Walker as well as historical political artists like David Alfaro Siqueiros, Kerry James Marshall, Jacob Lawrence and Faith Ringgold.
I’ve been told that my work is too political to sell and some of the imagery is potentially offensive and disturbing. But you know what? At this point really I don’t give a damn. I’m dedicated to making, meaningful, inspiring art that manages to be unique, tell a story and pull no punches. That being said, I invite you to view my work with an open mind and open heart. Hopefully you will laugh,cry, get angry or whatever. All I ask is for is an honest reaction.