Michele Utley Voigt Fine Arts offers this (re)introduction to the works of Michele A. Utley Voigt. Michele is an American artists born in Oklahoma. She rose to acclaim and prestige in her early childhood. She began studying oil painting with instruction from a professional artist before the age of six. She presented at and competed in numerous jurored shows and competitive events winning countless awards and recognition. Michele placed ahead of "her peers" whom were often professional (adult) artists or collegiate art students. In her teens, Michele was fortunate to fall under the mentorship of many known artists and arts organizations. The Oklahoma Arts Institute provided a bridge to Michele that allowed her to work with and learn from world renowned professionals. During her years with the institute she was endowed with a teacher, mentor, and friend (Howard Kanovitz). His influence is apparent in her works to date. Howard Kanovitz offered Michele opportunity, advised her development and shared his fellows including artist (and saxophonist) Larry Rivers. Howard introduced Michele to his community including many members of the East Thirteenth Street Band including David C. Levy, whom at that time was the Dean of Parsons New York. By her mid teens, Michele had "scouts" from highly regarded arts institutes and universities coming to meet her in her Oklahoma studio. Michele received art scholarships to every major art institute in the United States; including, Pratt, Parsons, Rhode Island School of Design, Chicago Art Institute, Kansas City Art Institute, Cal Arts, San Francisco Art Institute, CA Academy of Arts, Art Center, Otis Institute of Parsons School of Design, Laguna College of Art and Design and several private and public universities. Michele selected the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design to receive her Bachelors of Fine Arts at. During this time she had the opportunity to study at Parsons Art Institute in Paris creating kinship that she would revisit many times during her development. Michele's work has been exhibited in numerous galleries, museums, and has been acquired by several museums for their permanent collections. She has completed many commissioned works.
"I paint to change the world. I paint to change peoples hearts, views, and politics. I thought I could change the world through my art. I had a shocking revelation while immersed in the art world. I realized that I could not reach people that could not reach me. My audience was limited to those within society whom visit museums, galleries, and embrace visual art as part of their daily life. I realized I could not make the changes I wanted to make from where I was. I understood that if I wanted to 'change society' I had to be a part of society. I decided to get a degree in political science with a minor in pre-law and I began a long (19 year) fulfilling career in social services. Art was not enough". Michele began teaching arts and artisan crafts to adults with developmental disabilities. She had a store front and workshop to employ them. From there she sold and marketed their work. Over the years her workshop and exhibits grew to projects that assisted all artists with disabilities. "I sold and marketed their work. Once I saw how a paycheck changed lives I had to move forward. I had to expand that. Art is a privileged way to earn an income. Everyone can work and everyone benefits from work. The economic independence it provides empowers self determination. I moved on to agencies with the same mission to integrate the most unemployable (under-served) persons to work- to the mainstream. I started working with adults with severe and developmental disabilities but grew to work with all limited populations; persons with mental illness, welfare recipients, ex-felons, immigrants, refugees, the homeless, unemployed/underemployed; eventually everyone! Work changed their lives and that impacted our world". Michele parted from her career in social services when she moved from Los Angeles to New York City. There she resumed her practice, her painting, her purpose". My art tells a story of the human soul - the human experience. I can paint it as I have witnessed and as I have lived it. I will never again simply paint to change the world. I will be a physical contribution to communities through hands on participation, political activism and the many boards and organizations I continue to volunteer with. I will tell their stories through my paints".