Michael Byron is a visual artist whose work is included in the museum collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Saint Louis University's Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Tamayo Museum (Mexico City), and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, the Netherlands), among others.
Byron was born in Rhode Island and earned his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and his MFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in 1981. His inclusion in MoMA's An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture in 1984 marked the beginning of his international career. After participating in the 1989 Whitney Biennial, he moved to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he lived and worked for five years. While in Amsterdam, he participated in group and solo exhibitions there and in Germany, France, and Spain.
Byron's work is characterized by a continuing interest in the nature of objects, specifically the theatrical nature of objects of contemplation, and a commitment to the practice of painting and collage with a strong parallel involvement with installation art.
In March 1996, Byron exhibited a group of paintings entitled Short Stories in the Currents solo exhibition program at the Saint Louis Art Museum, in conjunction with his appointment as the first Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Fellow in Painting at Washington University (1994-1996).
The Amitin Notebook Project, first exhibited at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis from November 2001 through February 2002, traveled to the Blaffer Gallery at the Museum of the University of Texas, Houston, from June through September 2002. In 2009 the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art at Saint Louis University presented a solo exhibition of the series Cosmic Tears.
Four publications focusing on Byron's work have been published, and since his return to the United States in 1994, his work has been featured in 22 solo exhibitions, five two-person shows, and 52 group exhibitions in the United States and Europe, eight of which were museum exhibitions.
Byron is a 1989 NEA grant recipient, and received a Werkbeurs (work grant) while living in Amsterdam in 1992. In 1995 he was awarded a Bequia Summer Residency sponsored by the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. He was nominated for a Joan Mitchell Award in 2003 and for a United States Artists Grant in 2011. He received a Sam Fox School Creative Activity Research Grant in 2009.
Byron joined the full-time faculty in painting at Washington University in 1996 and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 2002. He served as the associate dean of faculty from 2004-2007.
In May 2015 he will present a solo exhibition at The Suburban in Oak Park, Illinois, an artist exhibition space founded by Brad Killam and Michelle Grabner, one of the co-curators of the 2014 Whitney Biennial.
The essence of my work is manifold: a continuing interest in the nature of objects, specifically the theatrical nature of objects of contemplation and a commitment to the practice of painting with strong sidebar interests in installation strategies, the relationship of text and image, and the continuing presence of Dada and Pataphysics in contemporary visual culture.
For dean Carmon Colangelo, drawing is both an expressive art and a daily practice. He discusses drawing, the importance of confidence, and the advantage of starting in the middle of the book in this Q&A.