Michael Aram is a mensch! The Yiddish word describes the kind of guy who brings out the best in those around him- a leader by example.
Ahead of Michael’s visit to the William Ashley store (Dec. 12th 1-4pm), the creator of nature inspired metal objects and serve-ware, sat down with us to discuss who he is as an artist, artisan and human.
Fertile Ground “I come from a very creative family. My dad worked in retail for Barneys and Saks and as a kid I would play under the department store displays,” says Michael, starting at the beginning. As he matured, his love for the arts flourished and he wound up with a double major in fine arts and art history.
The Big Break “When you’re in your twenties, you know how it is to work and put your all into it. I became the assistant to the assistant of the editor at the Met (Metropolitan Museum, N.Y.) and worked my way up to publish twelve books and two hundred posters.”
The Aha moment “I was at an Alexander Calder exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt when everything changed,” Michael continues, “I was amazed at how Calder designed everything from mobiles to doors to toilet paper holders. He wasn’t bound to anything.” Enthusiasm triples as he explains how this changed the image of himself, expanding the vision of who he could be in the future, describing the frustrations of his contemporaries who were pigeon-holed early in their careers.
Lofty Ideas He began to exhibit his work in the East Village and went looking for a larger studio space. He found himself in Hoboken, New Jersey. “What’s a loft?” asked the bewildered real estate agent as Michael explained the term that hadn’t made its way to the suburbs. This was the mid-eighties- how things have changed. “So I took a trip to India,” Michael beams, as if it is the only logical thing to do when accommodations are scarce in New York.
Craft India Michael fell in love with the artisans of Delhi after walking the Chandni Chowk bazaar, among others. He sat beside artisans forging shovels by hand. India’s middle class had all but left them behind, switching their favour to the colourful plastics of China. “I experimented. I linked the metal worker to molder, polisher to forger,” Michael explains as he searched to perfect the objects of his desire. Now, after twenty-six years he owns an atelier in Delhi and still works with some of the same people who helped him develop his first pieces.
Construction- Deconstruction Michael offers a look at the new technique he is working on as he describes the beauty of foliage knocked to the ground, mixing with water and clay. “It’s called After The Storm,” he says, describing the Jackson Pollack style pouring of metal. “I am inspired by Indian philosophy- that destruction and creation are so closely joined. It’s really quite beautiful.”
Interview by: Sujeet Sennik