Raw Reckoning is veteran Chicago artist Michael K. Paxton’s one-person exhibition of large-scale paintings and works on paper that derive their structure from the study of slide sections of the effect of black lung disease on coalminers. Paxton, a sixth generation West Virginian creates pillar size fields of chalk, charcoal, gesso and acrylic on raw canvas that embrace this ongoing devastation from coal in an effort to point to a place and people not heard from often in contemporary art. Through a well ingrained working process of size and materials, the open-ended approach of how each painting is developed produces a colorful and awkward work of aggressive mark making that refuses to stand still. Pushing hard against expectations an otherness surrounds his work as he looks for the exact point where his bone deep Appalachian heritage can carve out a place for a heart’s desire to speak of something important, personal and yet as common as dirt.
Michael K. Paxton many awards include a grant 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 17thAnnual Great Lakes International Film Festival. Major one-person exhibitions include Miami University Museum of Art, Oxford, Ohio; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL; Linda Matney Gallery, Williamsburg, VA.; Heuser Art Center, Bradley University, Peoria, IL, Linda Warren Projects, Chicago, IL; Laura Mesaros Gallery, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. He has 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 selected and published in Art and Soul, 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.