Well-traveled photographer, potter and pen-and-ink artist Michelle Chegus is our PBAA featured artist
As a child growing up in Diablo, California, Michelle spent lots of time swimming, riding her horse, playing tennis, water skiing, and snow skiing. She also drew, and, in middle school, made her first piece of pottery, which she still has today.
As Michelle explains, “I came from a family of artists, teachers and electrical engineers: My grandmother studied painting in her early sixties; my sister sells her oil and watercolor paintings; and
my brother paints, draws, and does tile and woodwork.“
When she was 13 and her parents divorced, Michelle lived briefly with her mom in Hawaii, then returned to live in Los Altos, where she started making pottery again and also learned jewelry
making. At 16, she went to Sweden for the summer as a foreign exchange student. And, in her senior year, entered independent studies for pottery.
After high school, Michelle attended Cabrillo College in Soquel, California, where photography studies taught her how to develop lm and other basics. “It was the beginning of chasing the light for me,“ adds Michelle.
Then came an opportunity to go to Brazil. Explains Michelle, “I was going to stay for two months but ended up living there almost two years. I lived with Brazilians and was immersed in the culture—the
language, music, dance and the beauty of Brazil. Rio had a big impact on my life.”
However, Michelle returned to Santa Cruz and began two years of Shotokan Karate training (including one summer in Morocco), an experience that she says, “Taught me discipline, focus and humility, which is useful in my creativity. Now I work on my art everyday, and I could not accomplish that without what I learned from karate.”
After four years in Redondo Beach and another four years in Northern California, Michelle moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where she studied court reporting for two years. Unhappy with Phoenix, she then moved to Frankston, Australia to live with her mother and stepfather, and, with her mother, took pottery classes for six months.
After that, Michelle spent 10 years in San Francisco. “I loved living there,” she adds, “but accomplished nothing artistically.” Then Michelle moved to a small town on the border of Tahoe National Forest and then, in 2013, on to Brookings.
As Michelle sums it up, “It's been a long journey to get to the place I am today. That I can actually say, ‘I’m an artist,’ that makes me happy and proud. I have no formal training, really. I just put pen to paper, hands to clay, or chase the light. All the things I've seen—the cultures, the music, the light and every single experience are now part of who I am as an artist.”