Michael McKowen : Abstracting Images

If you’ve been to CATF — the Contemporary American Theater Festival — since 2008, you’ve likely seen the work of artist Michael McKowen. That was his first year at the Festival, and he was props master. The next, scenic sculptor. Then videographer. Then exhibiting artist. This year, his work is featured on the five play posters and the cover of the Festival brochure.

A Creative Process Unlike Any Other
“I’ve never worked like this, specifically for an outcome like this,” says McKowen of his collaboration with CATF Producing Director Ed Herendeen to create the images. One where neither of them knew what they were going for, he adds — drawings or three-dimensional pieces or something else — but something different for sure, a new look, not stock images. McKowen suggested adding texture and color. Ed liked that and sent him the scripts to read. A back-and-forth exchange of research and ideas, questions and many conversations ensued.

At the time, McKowen was starting a new semester of teaching 3-D Object-Making at Wheeling Jesuit University, and the subject was on his mind. “Maybe what these are…is three-dimensional assembled objects that we’ll photograph,” he suggested to Ed, who responded with interest and uncertainty — and a go-ahead.

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