IMAGE: Paul Michael Wright, Untitled, 2021. Oil and oil pastel on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
The LEH is pleased to announce that Paul Michael Wright, the first recipient of the Gustave Blache III Art Scholarship for Aspiring Artists to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in illustration at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City, completed his degree in May.
In a recent interview, Wright described the formal study of art as a necessary process, forcing him and the others in his cohort to abandon old patterns and focus on purposeful creative work: work that is “not about beauty, but about personality.”
He recounted the SVA illustration program’s emphasis on storytelling, encouraging the students to identify keywords that recall their development as artists and the stories they wish to tell through their art. In addition to this formal study, Wright spoke about the creative synthesis that develops among a group of aspiring professional artists, diverse in origin, media, and vision. Mornings in the SVA studio saw Wright and his fellow students working on both their creative work and the skills they needed to develop to successfully work as artists, including how to build the web savvy and critical thinking and planning skills needed to promote their work.
As Wright noted, many artists have a hard time imaging their careers outside the pattern of a gallery artist, but SVA works to expose its students to opportunities in commercial art and digital media as well as other ways to work as an artist outside the difficult, sometimes limiting path of solely working as a gallery artist. Wright himself has had opportunities to collaborate with well-known and influential companies like Spotify and Adobe, and will soon begin work with a corporate mural firm. Having developed as a storyteller during the SVA program, he now feels able and ready to use this skill set to help others communicate.
The distance learning made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic allowed Wright the freedom to return to Louisiana to perform research for his thesis project. “Mourning Light” explores Wright’s childhood and in particular the day his brother died. To tell this story fully Wright spent time with his family, sharing memories, looking at pictures, and distilling the story he would tell with his images—work best and most effectively done in Louisiana. This summer, he returned to New York to continue building the connections he established in his degree program.
Wright wishes to extend his special thanks to the LEH, the late Leah Chase, and Gustave Blache, who became his project advisor. The LEH congratulates Wright on his success and looks forward to watching his career blossom further. See more of his work at his SVA portfolio site here.