Studio Visit: Michelle Oosterbaan / by Colin Keefe

I dropped by Michelle Oosterbaan's studio yesterday to see what she's been up to.  Oosterbaan's studio is in the Scotts Mills building in NW Philadelphia.  She's traveled a lot over the years, a combination of residencies, personal exploration and teaching gigs, and her work has always responded to the places she's lived - northern lights in Iceland, or early experiences in landscape painting that still carry into the current work - sky and ground.

Studio shot, Michelle Oosterbaan.

The drawing above is from around 2006 and Oosterbaan considers it a transition/touchstone piece, bridging the inflection point between her older, more linear, hard edge work and the more atmospheric and ethereal effects of more recent drawings and paintings.

My favorite works are "touchstone" pieces.  They're the objects where you crack something open for the first time, discover something vital and new that points in a new direction for you work.  Every artist has them and they carry more personal meaning that the bodies of work that come after.

Above are a few panels from an endless column series (after Brancusi).  They're modular and can be installed in any quantity/height.

We then rifled through a number of in progress sketches, below.  Oosterbaan may have several dozen 'in progress' works that she returns to.  In a sense everything in her studio is 'in progress' in the sense that everything is open game.