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CK Contemporary

Michelle Osman

“My initial attraction to the storms is the way they enter into my life.  Gusts of wind, lightning and changing weather insist on a certain degree of attention that blue skies do not.  It is this dichotomy that makes the clouds singular and evocative. Watching a particular cloud formation, or a dramatic storm, I am fully present in the moment.”

(American, b. 1981)

Michelle Osman is best known for her oil paintings of storm clouds that eddy and churn over narrow slices of land.  She works from photo references taped together in collages which capture the evolution of the clouds as they move, morph, build and dissipate.  The specificity of each cloud formation alludes to a particular moment in time and place, which speaks to the transience of those moments in our lives. The turbulent sky is both an arena for distraction and meditative reprieve from the day to day, while the land reminds us of our small existence and pulls the viewer back to the stories hinted at by a pair of headlights in the waning light.  

Osman was raised in a family of artists who valued time making art and playing outdoors as much as homework. She was born in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 1981. At the age of seven, her family moved to Costa Rica where the mountains were replaced with the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Living ten minutes from the beach allowed Osman to spend most of her free time immersed in water that felt like an extension of her body. She returned to the west to earn her BFA and MFA from Montana State University.   

Osman has traveled extensively in the Western United States, rafting 400 miles of the Colorado river and exploring the abandoned architecture of the small towns in between.  The encompassing beauty of these places and the stories of the people in them are an ongoing theme in her work. Osman’s work has been exhibited throughout the country in Montana, Nevada, Alabama, Seattle, Oklahoma, Michigan, Wisconsin and California as well as Shanghai, China. She currently lives and works in Bozeman, Montana.