Michelle Firment Reid at Atelier MFR in Tulsa, OK
When I asked the multi-disciplinarian artist, Michelle Firment Reid, to describe her work, it made sense when she answered, “Art for me is all the time.” Having a 30-year career as a full-time artist, Michelle’s so-called input-time comes in the form of her everyday living. Her input time includes conversations with friends, traveling, writing, going out to eat, being in nature, and with family. “If you’re present in what you are doing at the moment, that can be an art experience. So when I can take that in, it comes out as art,” explains Michelle.
As a contemporary artist of today, her work is compelled by political and social activism, expressed through
feeling and emotion with color and design, along with the art of asemic writing. Her asemic writing looks like Middle Eastern calligraphy and she describes it as “writing with the intent of no language or meaning. It’s not representing anything; there’s no symbolic meaning that people can refer to.”
The history of today’s asemic movement stems from two Chinese calligraphers in 800 CE: “crazy” Zhang Xu and the younger “drunk” monk Huaisu. It became popular in the 1920s by Man Ray, who Dada influenced, creating an early work of wordless writing with his poem Paris, Mai 1924, which looks like nothing more than dashes on a page.
Michelle explains, “what it does is allows the viewer to look at the work and feel some meaning, expression or language going on, but it doesn’t get in the way of the work. It doesn’t get into their mind as a word-forming, which allows them to see the work and have that balance.”
This no-meaning-writing in much of Michelle’s work is deep with meaning, but she leaves that up to the viewer to decide. For Michelle, the work is incomplete until a viewer reacts to it, whether positive or negative. “If somebody gets something from my art, I feel like ‘okay, I did something.”
Having grown up in Europe, Michelle pursued art from a young age. She graduated from the Corcoran College of Art Design in DC and spent time in the Central Intelligence Agency in graphics and disguise. Her boss, Tony Mendez, who Ben Affleck played in the movie Fargo, inspired her to pursue her art full time. Tony was also an artist and would often say how much he looked forward to returning to his art when he retired. However, Michelle decided not to wait for retirement and committed to her art full time.
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Michelle’s extensive career as an artist has taken her across Tulsa through multiple studio locations. Having space in the Blue Dome District, Pearl District, and installations in various galleries and warehouses, her studio, Atelier MFR, currently resides in the up-and-coming Meadow Gold District. “I love having an environment where somebody can walk into.” Atelier is French for a workshop and studio and serves a dual purpose for Michelle. It has the feel of a cozy, eclectic working art studio, often with French cafe music playing, as well as an inviting place to host students and participants for her Create X Art Experiences, where she facilitates abstract painting workshops during the week.
Atelier MFR is open on Saturdays for the public from 11-4. You can buy some of her work at the Atelier, but most of her art is represented at the Joseph Gierek Fine Art Gallery, which happens to be right next door.
Ready to Plan A Visit?
Find Atelier MFR at 1344 B East 11th Street. Tulsa, OK 74120 or visit their website.
Local Hotels & Restaurants
Atelier MFR is in the heart of the Meadow Gold District on historic Route 66. In each direction,
you can walk to a locally owned shop, gallery or cafe.
1401 E. 11th St., Tulsa, OK 74104
Cherry and Bark Ice Cream
1347 E. 11th St., Tulsa, OK 74120
Mon Ami Nails and Spa and Vegan Cafe
1406 E 11th St, Tulsa, OK 74120
Stay at the historic Tulsa Club Hotel
115 E 5th St, Tulsa, OK 74103
Michelle Firment Reid Favorite Paintings
From Michelle’s series on Climate Change titled; The Brutal Loss of The Beautiful.
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