Our latest Artist You Need To Know is someone whose work alternates between an intense realism and a responsive (usually to classical music, which strongly influences his work) process he describes as ‘colour chorales.’ Maceo Mitchell was born in Detroit, Michigan: he obtained a BFA from Wayne State University, and then graduate school at the University of Iowa (1969). There, he studied under master printmaker Mauricio Lasansky, who was a major influence in Mitchell’s artistic development.
Maceo Mitchell is an artist whose importance and relevance is not solely in his practice, but also manifests in his teaching. He was Professor of Drawing, Design and Printmaking at Macomb County Community College (Warren, Michigan) from 1969 until 1976. Later, his move to New York City prompted him to teach art at a variety of levels and to many different groups until 1990. Among the institutions he taught at are Harlem School of the Arts and the United Nations International School (both in New York City).
Mitchell works primarily in pastels and watercolours, employing a ‘traditional’ method in ways that display skill and a considered eye. His artwork has been described as “realistic to hyper-real…He points out that if his painting contains 42 pears, then he will buy 42 different pears rather than repetitiously paint the same piece of fruit.” (from Artists in Pastels) In response to this, writer Robert K. Carsten, in a feature on Mitchell’s work in the February 2010 issue of the Pastel Journal countered that “when Maceo Mitchell paints a pear 42 times, it’s not for love of the fruit; it’s his way of exploring and celebrating the fascinating subject of color.”
Mitchell was a past Director of the the Pastel Society of America’s Flora B. Giffuni Atelier for Pastels at the National Art Club and is an Emeritus Board Member of the organization, located in New York. The educational and instructional endeavors of the Pastel Society perfectly mirror both the aesthetic discipline seen in Mitchell’s work, and his commitment to teaching and learning. He was also Artist in Residence at Sandy Hill School (Cambridge, MA) from 1996 – 2001.
He has exhibited – both in solo and group exhibitions – across North America, and in France, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom. Many private collections around the world include his work.
Maceo Mitchell’s images, though often depicting the everyday, are delicately and expertly rendered depictions of objects that provide us with a different perspective, and consideration of what we’re observing. His ‘colour chorales’ are aptly named, as the vivid tones and hues of his ‘still life’ works can be seen in the historical tradition of Northern Renaissance paintings of the same subject, that offer something new and engaging to the eye each time you ‘watch’ it.
More of Maceo Mitchell’s artwork can be enjoyed here.