I weave shredded paper strips from everyday pre-printed source materials – materials like road maps, books, magazines, junk mail and seed catalogs. By weaving each fragile, ephemeral strip of paper, I make a strong sheet of patterned and visually noisy paper. I print my often simple linoleum cuts on translucent rice paper and allow the fragments of previous printings to shine through to meld new and previous meanings. With new images glued over the pre-printed color and line, I hope to encourage awareness of the side-by-side nature of historical accumulation, cultural change, disruption, and continuity. The play of what was and what is can take some time to absorb. I hope to create images that slows viewers down and encourage time to reflect (rather than rush) through an overactive world.
Connecticut-based artist Mike Sweeney has been working across media and art disciplines since he received an M.F.A. from the University of Connecticut in 1990 for his work in painting, printmaking, and installation. Mike’s collage and print work has focused on marrying the character of preprinted paper with new overlays of meaning through weaving, chine-collé, and papercutting.
Mike approaches each piece as an opportunity to focus on how differing aspects of everyday life bump up against each other materially, socially, and culturally. Having grown up on a national border listening to both French and English, he appreciates that each intersection of materials and images can be understood through different viewer frameworks, language assumptions, and points of view. He recognizes that interpretation is influenced by the accumulation of layers, by personal experiences within or outside one’s place of origin, by demographic, by ethnic background, by one’s current and previously experienced geography.
Mike has placed work in the private collections of authors, scholars, and collectors across the United States. Since 2015, his work has been exhibited by the New Britain Museum of American Art, the ”Hartford Public Library, and the National Collage Society, as well as in the “Embracing Our Differences” billboard exhibit at Sarasota Island Park and Bradenton Riverwalk.