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Photograph by Teri Genovese

Bio:

Michael Pfleghaar is an artist residing and working in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He earned his MFA in visual arts from Lesley University College of Art and Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2011. Pfleghaar often portrays botanicals and still lifes, infusing them with abstract elements and flattened space to generate new perspectives. His compositions reflect influences from mid-century modern design, evident in the clean lines, balance, and use of organic materials.

In 2023, Pfleghaar was chosen as one of four artists to have their work permanently installed as terrazzo floor designs at the Gerald R Ford International Airport. He also received The Best of Show in the 2021 Festival of the Arts and the West Michigan Area Show at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts in Kalamazoo in 2020.

Pfleghaar’s artwork has been featured in Architectural Digest, Arcadia Magazine, Studio Visit, Metropolitan Home, Solace, and American Craft. Organizations such as the Gilmore Piano Festival 2024, Apple, HBO, CBS, ForeSee, Hayworth, and Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts have utilized his artwork as illustrations.

In 2016, Pfleghaar attended the Spread Art Artists Residency in Detroit, MI, and in 2013, he was honored with the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Ox-Bow School and Artists Residency in Saugatuck, MI. His work was part of the 2012 LGBTQ exhibition ReMix: Revisiting Appropriation, curated by Jonathan Katz in San Francisco, CA. Pfleghaar’s original artworks are included in permanent collections, such as the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Steelcase Inc., Herman Miller, the State of Michigan, and Grand Valley State University.

 

Statement:

My artistic focus centers on the theme of relationships, both in form and concept. In terms of form, my paintings embody a balance between reality and abstractness, achieved through exaggerated color, flattened space, and defined edges that allude to the artwork as an entity. From a conceptual standpoint, I find inspiration in my environment, using it as a reflection of one’s inner self.

The core essence of my creative practice lies in documenting the queer identity and its connections. Inanimate objects such as modern furniture and houseplants not only serve as a record of my personal experiences but also act as substitutes for human figures.

To create a contrast with my discomfort of reality, I employ flamboyant, expressive objects, and dramatic compositions in my paintings. Though my aim is to convey a personal narrative through an ongoing conversation, the work remains universally relatable through its recognizable depictions.

 

mpfleghaar@gmail.com

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