Michael K. Paxton is a sixth generation West Virginian and Chicago based artist with awards that include grants from the Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Inc., New York; Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Visual Art Award and two Professional Development Grants; Fellowships with both Air le Parc, Project and Research Center, Pampelonne, France and Jentel Artist Residency Program, Banner, Wyoming; a Marshall University Alumni Award of Distinction; five Professional Development Grants from Columbia College, Chicago and the documentary film “Work at Hand, Michael K. Paxton” Official Selection of the 17th Annual Great Lakes International Film Festival. He has been a Visiting Artist and Artist in Residence with numerous Universities and Art Centers over is fourty-five- year career.
Selected major one-person exhibitions include the forthcoming exhibition with the Evanston Art Center; the recent Raw Reckoning, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago and Pillars of Dust, Heuser Art Center, Bradley University, Peoria, IL. Others include Miami University Museum of Art, Oxford, Ohio; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL; Linda Matney Gallery, Williamsburg, VA.; Linda Warren Projects, Chicago, IL; Laura Mesaros Gallery, West Virginia University among many others.
Recent group exhibitions include Current Art Fair, Richmond, VA, Appalachian Futures, WVU Libraries, Locus, Mason-Scharfenstein Museum of Art, Cornelia, GA; Obsession, Improvisation, Collaboration, Governors State University, University Park, IL.; On Big Drawings, Averill and Bernard Leviton A&D Gallery, Columbia College, Chicago; the major retrospective Between Rock and an Art Place, The University of Georgia Lamar School of Art Gallery, Athens, GA. Additional noteworthy group exhibitions were presented by Koehnline Museum of Art, Des Plains, IL; and the Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, MI.
A few of his major commissions are with the 7th District Federal Reserve Bank, Chicago; Christel De Haan Collection, Zionsville, IN; Jensen Metal, Inc. in Racine, WI, and a wall-size drawing installed into the Kirkland and Ellis collection in San Francisco. He has also been published in New American Paintings; featured artist/educator in issue 8 of Line Work; been the subject of both radio and television features on NPR, Chicago and WVPBS and honored to have been selected and published in Art and Soul, that highlighting fifty of the most noted West Virginians in the Arts.
He is an adjunct faculty member of Columbia College, Chicago since 2005 and has BA in Art from Marshall University, 1975 and an MFA in Drawing and Painting from The University of Georgia, 1979.
As both a veteran Chicago artist and a sixth generation West Virginian from the besieged coalfields in the southern counties of the state, the backbone of my work over a forty-five-year career has been looking for the exact point where my bone deep Appalachian heritage smashes up against the academics of contemporary art. Currently I am engaged in a new body of large-scale work where I push for more open space, richer paint application and an enhanced surface presence. Based on new structures developed in sketchbooks and my use of the simplest of media these new paintings and drawings point to a burst of organic growth in my work and the promise of the next step forward.