Duane Michals

“It is my spiritual home,” Mr. Michals said. “Spirit lingers in the heart. Spirit is never cool. You can’t explain it. It’s what you love.”

Photographer and painter Duane Michals is speaking about his beloved home town of Pittsburgh where his exhibit of a half-century’s worth of work– “Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals” –opens this Saturday at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Michals spoke with David Gonzalez at the New York Times about the upcoming show, and how his childhood in McKeesport shaped his photography.

“That’s where I got my values,” he said. “You work first, ask questions later. Do your duty, like when I had to get up for my newspaper route even before the coal stove was warm. But you do what needs to be done. You don’t ask somebody else to do it. If you want something, go get it,” Michals told Gonzalez.

Gonzalez writes that the show will include an extensive array of photographs from the 82-year-old artist’s body of work, including paintings Michals completed of his own photographs. The curator for the event, Linda Benedict-Jones has worked for five years gathering the pieces, an easy task in one sense due to the museum’s vast collection of Michals’ work, and a difficult one in another sense when trying to assemble them according to themes over such a long career.

Benedict-Jones chose such themes as “portraits and narratives to sensuality, commercial work and even children’s stories,” to create an exhibition that, according to Gonzalez, is “like Mr. Michals himself —  by turns serious, funny, melancholy and loving. He can make you think. But above all, he can make you feel, having found a way to convey the emotions that are inside the frame, although perhaps not front and center.”

It’s true Michals has never shown much regard for what the art world has to say about his methods, from writing on his proofs to donning a wig and parodying the work of Cindy Sherman.

“I’m not jumping on any bandwagon,” he said. “I’ve always been my own parade,” he told Gonzalez.

Read the full article here.

Rebekah Zook is a Duquesne grad and all-around story-telling enthusiast. A former fellow at WESA, she worked as a production assistant for their daily talk show. Most recently, she taught in the Propel Charter School system as a visiting artist. When she isn’t writing, Rebekah is a trip leader for the local non-profit organization Venture Outdoors. You can usually find her in a bright yellow kayak.