Michelle L. Morby: The Audience

January 2 – April 2, 2017

Red Poppy Art House Exhibitions Presents: The Audience
Paintings by Michelle L. Morby | Curated by Modesto Covarrubias & Monica Lundy

For their third exhibition at the Red Poppy Art House, curators Monica Lundy and Modesto Covarrubias proudly present The Audience, a solo show of over 70 portraits by Michelle L. Morby. The selected paintings presented in this exhibition are part of a much larger continuing body of work that has occupied Morby’s practice for nearly three years. This eclectic gathering of faces occupying the walls functions as a ready-made audience as they look toward the central space at all occupants, surveying all who enter, while congruently hanging quietly in anticipation of being gazed upon by an audience to make them complete.

Morby’s subjects come from a wide variety of distinct groups including the Shakers, authors, historical figures, icons of fashion, and movie characters including monsters, artists, and art world figures. Most recently the work has directed toward men dressing or presenting themselves as women, and NDAPL protesters and water protectors. Together, these various groups become one large coterie bonded through the act of being painted by the same hand. Being an artist using a broad range of media with which to express herself, Morby has often referred to this work in terms of painting as performance. Indeed, the individual expressions hold one’s gaze, but in a group they reinforce the presence of something much larger than themselves–a clear example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

The curators present this work in the performance space of the Red Poppy Art House with an aim to spark a dialogue between music, voice, movement, and the act of seeing. With an interest in how to interact and live with art, the curators seek out work that enlivens and engages the space in which it exists. Covarrubias and Lundy view their exhibitions in the space as an opportunity for visual art and performing arts to come together; to feed off of and nourish each other, to inform each other, and to challenge each other in order to create a synergetic experience.




Born in the glamorous city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Michelle L. Morby was adopted in the 1970’s. She spent her formative years in the United States, on both coasts, and in the Western Pennsylvania territory. While living in Paris, she began her art-making in street photography. She is a multi-media artist who has worked in both analog and digital photography, video, installation, performance, happenings, and now paintings as performance. It is her staunch belief that the creative idea dictates the medium. Some themes she has explored in her work are mythos, desire, transformation, and belonging. Michelle has performed and exhibited across the country and internationally, from Idaho to Iceland. She currently lives in San Francisco living betwixt trees and fog.
This current body of portraits seeks to celebrate an eclectic group of people from history, pop culture, and somewhat forgotten history. I celebrate all lives, great and small. The foibles of the human condition are what makes us real. Joy and humor can be found in how ridiculous and sublime we all are. I decided to call the supporting website un petit aperçu, meaning “a little bit,” or “to catch a glimpse of,” which is what I do. Some portraits are more clear than others.










Modesto Covarrubias and Monica Lundy collaborate on several curatorial projects, including Studio 5,4 Salon, an event that brings together arts professionals for an evening of lively discourse. They are the San Francisco Bay Area curators of visual arts for Flying Under the Radar Biennial Festival of the Arts, an interdisciplinary lab/festival that facilitates collaborative work between artists of the San Francisco Bay Area and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Both Covarrubias and Lundy maintain their own studio practice, among other projects. Modesto Covarrubias has a BFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute, an MFA in Studio Art from Mills College, and teaches at California College of the Arts. Monica Lundy has a BFA in Sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, an MFA in Painting from Mills College, and is represented by Nancy Toomey Fine Art in San Francisco.