Artist challenges herself with new methods of expression.
Michelle Firment Reid grew up in the Philippines; Bucharest, Romania; and Paris, France. The full-time artist works in a wide variety of media at her Blue Dome District studio.
Michelle Firment Reid’s creative process in her Blue Dome District studio spans various genres of art. She considers herself an installation artist who is trained in multimedia, which includes painting, photography, video, mixed media sculpture and a lesser-known art form called asemic writing.
How did you develop your style? Much of my personal art inspiration comes from nature, its seasonal changes and its relationship to humankind. My mother painted while we lived overseas. I was surrounded with diverse cultures, art museum visits, as well as parks and walks in nature. I knew I wanted to be an artist at age 7.
I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Corcoran College of Art & Design in Washington, D.C., where my art instructors — all practicing artists — were a great influence on me, as well.
Your artistic endeavors are widely varied. Is it difficult to work in such an array of media? I am a multimedia artist who has more than 20 years of painting experience. I am highly committed to the art process, where I take risks by experimenting with different media and materials. When the experiment works, I have the feeling of arrival, of completion. If it does not work, I think about why I failed, and this often gives me many new ideas. All of my best ideas come out of process, out of the work itself.
I do not like to be stagnant in my work, and prefer to challenge myself, as well as the viewer. I am not interested in what I have done, but what I can do. I love using my hands, being actively involved in my work, and challenging myself with new ways of expression.
Explain your interest and work in asemic writing. At a very young age, my father taught me the Morse Code. I found it fascinating how language could be interpreted through tones, lights or clicks. This fascination carries through to me today with the concept of thought, our unspoken mind, and how it plays a role in our daily lives. In much of my work, I convey thought through asemic writing, a wordless, open form of writing allowing the viewer to hover in a state between reflecting on their own interpretation, while simultaneously seeing the work.
How did you discover asemic writing? I had been using handwriting in my art for years; poetry, words, random thoughts. Several years ago, I felt the words were getting in the way of the overall image, becoming more of a distraction within the art instead of a part of the art. I then purposely made my handwriting looser and illegible.
This eventually became a natural, gestural form of writing with no actual meaning, though still evoking thought and emotion through the weight and gesture of the stroke. It became writing that does not have any actual writing in it whatsoever. In this sense, asemic writing becomes a sort of common language regardless of education, age, background or nationality; it puts all viewers on the same footing with the freedom to apply their own personal references.
Tell us about your annual summer trips to Europe. My family moved from Pennsylvania, where I was born, when I was 1 year old to Bucharest, Romania, then to the Philippines and Paris, France, eventually returning to the United States to settle in a suburb near Washington, D.C.
When visiting Europe, I feel as though a part of me is going home. The summer months there are when I spend my creative input time, researching new art ideas, sketching, taking photos, making new art connections, meeting other artists and gallery owners, and laying out plans for a future exhibit. Basically it is a time for creative discovery. tþ
For more information about Firment Reid, visit www.michellefirmentreid.com.