Portrait of the Artist

Michelle Kohler

The Big Plan

By Noelani Kirschner | March 9, 2020
The Big Plan, (detail), ink on antique book pages, approx. 84 x 48 inches, 2019
The Big Plan, (detail), ink on antique book pages, approx. 84 x 48 inches, 2019

Michelle Kohler holds an undergraduate degree in art but became an artist only after her daughter was born. While at home with her newborn, she gave herself a simple prompt: create a drawing each day based on her observations of her domestic setting. This practice became meditative and she soon began to explore the outer limits of art as meditation. “My goal was to explore the middle ground between visual art, movement, and mysticism,” Kohler says. “The pillars of things that mattered to me.”

In time, as she began to incorporate new mediums and text-centered concepts into her work, Kohler’s practice expanded. An object central to this endeavor: the typewriter. “I was thinking about the typewriter as a drawing tool and how to create visual value,” Kohler says. “More can be read into the way repetition creates darker values, deeper imprints, and the blurring of language.” In an absurdist exercise inspired by Frank Stella, she began typing the letters P-L-A-N into geometric, swirling patterns. The practice evolved into her colossal work The Big Plan, a 300-hour undertaking for which she “wove” the text together to create an object that resembled a textile when viewed from a distance. “I was thinking about how small things accumulate,” she says, “and how something monumental can be born out of boredom, discomfort, devotion and the slow progression of time.”

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