Michelle Osman is best known for her oil paintings of storm clouds that eddy and churn over narrow slices of land. Using thin layers of oil paint, (in the tradition of Renaissance artists) Osman’s clouds verge on the hyperreal. Osman works from photo reference’s taped together in the style of David Hockney’s collages which capture the evolution of the clouds as they move, morph, build and dissipate. Each cloud formation alludes to a particular moment in time and place and the transience of that moment in our lives. The turbulent sky is both an arena for distraction, meditation and reprieve from the day to day, while the land and our small existence on it pull the viewer back to the stories hinted at in a pair of headlights in the waning light.
Osman 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, Osman spent most of her free time immersed in water that felt like an extension of her body. Osman was raised in a family of artists who valued time making art and playing outdoors as much as homework. 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, living in San Francisco 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 lives in Bozeman, Montana.
Osman’s work has been exhibited throughout the country in Montana, Nevada, Alabama, Seattle, Oklahoma, Michigan, Wisconsin and California as well as Shanghai, China.