Itinerary: M. Michelle Illuminato
M. Michelle Illuminato creates events, public-exchanges, and artworks to help reveal the complicated and often contradictory relationship between people, their culture and the land they live on. She often works with the collective next question and counts her Key to the City of Aliquippa Pennsylvania as her most treasured public award.
She works individually and with the collective next question on projects that have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her recent exhibitions include: Tripoli Street BakeYard, Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center, Pittsburgh, Lost & Found Factory, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, The Neighborhood Revisited, Open Engagement 2015, Pittsburgh, Pop Rocks, Strohl Art Center, Chautauqua Institute, NY, Lenz, Vogelfrei 10, Darmstadt, Germany. The Lost & Found Factory, was recognized by Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Year in Review as one of the most compelling artworks from across the country during 2015. She is Head of the CORE Program at Portland State University and was recently honored with the Master Teacher Award by the Foundations: Art, Theory, at the national conference.
“Over the years I have helped to reconnect people with their lost items, explored how women and girls experience public space, asked people from the Finger Lakes to literally get on a soapbox to talk to their neighbors, and worked with residents of Belgrade Serbia to create a new guide to their city. I’ve organized cook-off’s that feature foraged foods, created audio tours of people’s personal landmarks, asked people to use their cellphones to help illustrate a 200 year old book. I’ve explored local collections that shed light on communities and staged public readings. From all of these interactions, I’ve learned that people speak about their lives in ways that are striking, often poetic, and when placed next to the words of their neighbors, provide a new map to understanding a specific people and place.”