Michele Montalbano received her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of California at Long Beach and earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Painting from George Washington University. Montalbano has been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout the Washington metropolitan area. She is a 2009 recipient of a Strauss Fellowship and was a semi-finalist in the 2009 Bethesda Painting Awards. Michele resides in Northern Virginia and maintains a studio in Washington, DC.
The “Traces” series explores the themes of time and memory as they relate to the environments that we live in. My process begins with the deconstruction (sanding down) of an original painting of an interior space. Traces of erased lines remain. Original marks maintain a ghost like presence and one can sense the image that may have existed there. At times this pentimento insists itself back into being in the new painting. Layers that have been previously peeled away are not completely obscured by overlaid glazes of colors. A variety of gestural styles are used throughout the canvas. Contour line drawing, meticulously painted pattern, and loose, thick paint handling live together to create a new painted space. This process of combining randomness with deliberate detail results in a completed painting which is very different from the original but is imbued with its history. The ‘ghost’ images show themselves as objects that seem left behind from another time or from a previous occupant of a home. They are representative of unplanned life changes such as death, divorce or a move from ones long time roots. The relationships of objects with their surrounding structure become surrogates for a human presence and the viewer fills in the blanks with his or her own memories and imagination.