John Michael Byrd


CONcourse Gallery

On view August 28 – September 25


There will be an opening reception at CONcourse Gallery August 28 from 6-9PM and a closing reception on september 25 from 6-9PM. 

“Painting and drawing are tools with extraordinary revelatory power, picking up where words often fall short. They help to tackle the past and divine the future. My aim, as a painter, is to act as an archivist; merging the spheres of internal desire and external demands.

Growing up: my childhood in South Louisiana was an amalgamation of bad TV, Bible verses and strong Southern women – a gulf between decadence and repression. I eventually left that milieu, stronger, more aware, and with a lifetime of characters and experiences in tow. But somehow, it has never left me. And though my childhood doesn’t define me, it and the residual emotional stains certainly inform my life as an artist.

In practice, I avoid live models. I select imagery for my drawings from an archive I have amassed that enables me to categorize my sources. I then work to deconstruct the imagery in a manner that fosters new content. I begin to draw, connecting threads, fragment to fragment. And, through this collapsing of original context, I create new dialog and a more clarified reality.

By working from pre-existing images, I find the resultant paintings suggest a more compounded, complex narrative without being shackled to the original framing of the subject. My mode of re-contextualization empowers the viewer to interpret them more symbolically and metaphorically. This allows for greater charity within deviations of initial context and more variety of visual representation of the painted figure.The often charged nature of my source material hints at our innate need and capacity for catharsis. I use this dissolution of boundaries, as a conceptual tool, to remind my viewers that in order to restore humanity, we must first acknowledge and define objectification within the body/mind dichotomy.

My current paintings are an attempt to resolve the confrontation of the artificial and the real. And, I do this with the anticipation of mitigating some of the damage inflicted by learned shame and hindered exposure to a genuine, self-derived identity.”


John Michael holds a MFA in Interdisciplinary Studio Arts from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and is also an alumnus of Louisiana State University with a BFA in Painting and Drawing. He is primarily a painter, but also has worked in drawing, video, objects, performance and printmaking. John Michael’s work has been featured in numerous regional and national exhibitions and competitions. Also, he has been awarded several grants and scholarships including the J. Kenneth Edmiston Memorial Scholarship and the Carl M. Thorp Memorial Art Scholarship. John Michael is currently an Adjunct Instructor at The University of Massachusetts-Amherst. 

For more information about the artist visit