Michelle McCoy

Michelle McCoy is a Chicago-based visual artist who works primarily in the mediums of printmaking and drawing. An archivist-librarian by day, her work is often interspersed with historical visual and textual references that have been reimagined in a contemporary context or mindset. She likes storytelling and her themes loosely explore the hubris of culture and the relationship of humans to the natural world.

Here We Go (Cautionary Tales series), 2019
Etching and aquatint printed a la poupee, 9 x 12 inches, $150

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: a Q & A with Michelle McCoy

How long have you been at CPC?

10 years! I took my first etching class ever at CPC with Duffy in 2009. That’s all it took. I’ve been here ever since.

What’s your favorite type of printmaking?

Etching and aquatint are my favorite go-to printing combination. I like the contrast between delicate lines and velvety tonal textures. However, I occasionally get a wild hair to do something completely different. I have spent half of this summer challenging myself to create multi-color woodcuts.

Why do you make art?

I never know how to answer this question. In part, making art is something that I have done compulsively since I was a kid and I created elaborate wardrobes for my handmade paper dolls. In another part, art is my visual commentary on the world and how I tell stories.

What other media do you enjoy working in?

I came to printmaking because I love drawing. Etching just seemed like a natural extension to the detailed drawing work I was creating in pen and ink. Presently, I am working on a series called Invisible Cities that depicts real and imaginary places through clusters of ink drawings on acrylic-painted tiles.

I also like to “draw” with all of those enticing colored skeins of embroidery floss. I have some textile works in process that mix screen printing with dyes, embroidery, and graphite. Stay tuned, it takes a long time to hand sew.

Cool stuff coming up? Give three important links to events, press, or media.

Chicago Printers Guild, 10th Anniversary Exhibition, opening October 4, 2019, NEIU Fine Arts Center, 5500 N St. Louis Ave. More information here.

Chicago Printers Guild, 4th Annual Publishers Fair, November 9th 2019, Constellation & Links Hall, 3111 N Western Ave. More information here.

What book are you currently reading?

The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum. It’s a terrifying true story about the group of chemists who tested and brought attention to the substances, like embalming fluid, that were put in food before labeling and regulations.

What is your favorite non-art distraction?

Gardening

Who are 3 artists (dead or alive) that inspire you?

Favorite is such a fickle thing… There is so much to be admired in our own backyard and I collect works by local printers whose works are daily inspirations as I work in the shop.

On a larger scale, I try to follow contemporary artists who are initiating interesting conversations. Right now, Shahzia Sikander, Walton Ford, and Ruby Onyinechi Amanze are on my list of creators to watch.

What is your favorite print?

Goya’s Caprichios consistently rank in my top five.

In your past life, you were a ________.

Possibly a farmer—my cucumbers have expanded to the roof of my garage!

What is the last gift you gave someone?

Haha—art, of course.

What’s your favorite thing about CPC?

The camaraderie of my fellow printers—this includes everything from a good laugh to getting great feedback on your latest piece to the sharing of a new technique.

Prying World (Ballad of Mary Toft series), 2018
Etching and aquating with chine colle, 12 x 9, $180
Thar She Blows (Whence Moby Dick series), 2016
Etching and aquatint with chine colle, 18 x 12 inches, $300

To view Michelle’s work in person, stop by Chicago Printmakers Collaborative during our open gallery hours every Friday and Saturday from 12-5:00pm. You can also view more work on her website. Read other Member Spotlight interviews here.