by mary dodson Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD Age: 24 Medium: Painting
icah Luke searched for years for the proper outlet for his creativity. “Each medium of art has its own dialect,” he says. After dabbling in writing and filmmaking, he finally found his artistic voice in the medium of painting. While a student at Southwest Minnesota State University, Luke found that his comic-book style paintings, usually rendered in spray paint, stood out from the more traditional landscapes and still life paintings produced by his fellow students. Luke chose to specialize in spray paint because he has always liked “the healthy hip-hop way of life.” Working in an untraditional medium makes Luke’s art unique, but it also presented a challenge for him as an art student. “My professors used to joke that they couldn’t help me; they said, ‘I can tell
you if it looks good, but I don’t The Art of Painting know anything about spray paint.’” says Luke. Once Luke started working with spray paint, he “fell in love with the different effect” it created in his paintings. Artwork that breaks with tradition in style or medium is not usually considered to be serious art, but Luke’s artwork usually deals with serious themes. “I enjoy the duality of the pop art look and the serious subject matter,” says Luke. In addition, Luke finds different viewers can have vastly different reactions to his work. Often, “the meaning of art is beyond what the artist intends,” says Luke, “which raises the question of where does art exist?” Dra Drawing inspiration for his paintings from various sources, Luke bases the composition and colors of his paintings on comic book artists such as Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, but thematically his paintings are influenced by the “old masters,” such as Picasso and Vermeer. One painting, a self-portrait of Luke in the act of spray painting, was inspired specifically by a similar self-portrait by Vermeer called The Art of Painting; painting oneself in the act of painting was a common practice for artists to demonstrate their style in the days before photographic portfolios. This homage is Luke’s way of “appreciating where art comes from and where it is going.” Among his other interests, Luke enjoys theatre, movies, literature and video games. “I once tried to count all the movies I had ever seen,” Luke says, “I counted up to 3,000 and I was only in the L’s.” Luke cites The Godfather as his favorite movie and Don Quixote as his favorite book. These other interests also influence Luke’s artwork; he has painted a portrait of Clint Eastwood and a painting inspired by Star Wars entitled Who Shot First? One of his paintings, entitled Petite Miseres de vie ne humaine, was inspired by a collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s letters to his brother called Dear Theo, a book Luke finds fascinating because “you can see the artist’s decent into madness—in his own words.” Luke has a performance for the YMCA Golf Classic at CJ Callaway’s June 4th. For more information, like on his upcoming solo exhibit in July, visit his website at www.micahluke.com.