Michael Dixon




Master of Fine Arts, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO



David Richard Gallery, New York, NY



2019: Residency, Joan Mitchell Center, New Orleans, LA

2018: Associate Professor Summer Fellowship, Albion College, Albion, MI

2018: Phi Beta Kappa Scholar of the Year, Albion College, Albion, MI

2017: Artist-in-Residence, Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY

2016: Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, New York, NY

2015: Artist-in-Residence (One-Year, 2015-2016), Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, Brooklyn, NY

2015: Joan Mitchell Foundation Emergency Grant, New York, NY

2015: Artist-in-Residence, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in France, Auvillar, France

2015: One-Year Sabbatical, Albion College, Albion, MI

2014: Large and Small Grant, Albion College, Albion, MI

2013: Puffin Foundation Grant, Puffin Foundation, Teaneck, NJ

2012: Artist-in-Residence, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Amherst, VA

2012: Large and Small Grant, Albion College, Albion, MI

2011: Blanchard Fellowship, Albion College, Albion, MI

2010: Large and Small Grant, Albion College, Albion, MI

2009: Cultural Crossroads Artist-in-Residence, The Holter Museum of Art, Helena, MT

2009: Artist-in-Residence, The Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT

2008: Artist-in-Residence, The Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest, IL



2019: I, too, sing America, David Richard Gallery, New York, NY

2019: Challenging Borders, The Bowman, Penelec, and Megahan Gallery, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA

2018: Can You Hear Me Now, St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley, St. Louis, MO

2018: The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same, Mazmanian Gallery, Framingham State University, Framingham, MA

2018: 2018 Figurative Association Exhibition, Sandra J. Blain Galleries, ArrowmontSchool of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, TN

2018: The Makings of a Man, madelife Gallery, Boulder, CO    

2018: Muskegon Museum of Art 90th Regional Exhibition, Muskegon Museum of Art,Muskegon, MI

2018: GoggleWorks 12th Annual Juried Exhibition, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, Reading, PA (juried by Thora Jacobsen)

2018: 32nd Annual LowellArts West Michigan Art Competition, Lowell Arts, Lowell, MI (juried by Ryan Kaltenbach)

2018: Divided: Race and Identity in Modern America, McMahon Gallery, Dairy ArtsCenter, Boulder, CO

2018: American Art in the New Millenium, Galería Artificio, Villavicencio, Meta, Colombia (traveling)

2017: Globalocation II: an Artnauts Exhibition, Rosemary Duffy Larson Gallery, Broward College, Davie, Fl

2017: Ortak Tarihler: Afro-Turk Portreler (Shared Histories: Afro-Turkish Portraits), Galeri Eksen, Istanbul, Turkey

•(2017: Konak Belediyesi, Izmir, Turkey)

2017: Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts! Marriott Library, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT (catalogue & traveling)

•(2017: The Benson Library, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX)

2017: Meta Journey, International Festival Sarajevo, The Historical Museum of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sarajevo, Bosnia/Herzegovina

2017: Lets Talk About Love, Baby, Zygote Press, Inc. Gallery, Cleveland, OH (traveling)

•(2013: iMOCA, Indianapolis, IN)

•(2013: Printed Matter, New York, NY)

2016: Rally Round the Flag of Justice, Redline Contemporary Art Center, Denver, CO (juried by Linda Weintraub)

2016: Zeitgeist: Social, Political, Cultural, Greatmore Studios, Cape Town, South Africa

•(2016: Moholo Live House, Khayelitsha, South Africa)

2016: The Narrative Figure, David Richard Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

2016: Unapologetic Negritude, Anacostia Arts Center, Washington, DC

2016: Art and Resistance, Dar Al-Kalima University, Bethlehem, Palestine          

2016: Saturated, EastEnd Studio and Gallery, Marshall, MI

2014: Portraits From Turkey, Chesapeake Gallery, Harford Community College, Bel Air, MD (Solo)

2014: Paper Doll Vintage Boutique's Premier Art Show, Paper Doll Vintage Boutique, Sayville, NY



2018: “20 Questions w/Michael Dixon,” madelife, access date: June 14, 2018.


2018: Amanda Moutinho, “Just Give a Damn,” Boulder Weekly, access date: February 1, 2018.


2017: Damir Cumurovic, “Meta Travel 40 Artists,” Oslobodenje, February 10, 2017, 6.

2017: “Ortak Tarihler: ‘Afro-Türk Portreleri,” Nisantasi Haber, access date: May 16, 2017.


2016: Jordan Eddy, "The Narrative Figure," Art Ltd, July/August 2016, 36.

2016: Jummy Olabanji, “’Unapologetic Negritude’ free art show at Anacostia Arts Center,”

Good Morning Washington, Washington, DC, May 18, 2016.



2016: Artists To Artists, Volume 2 (2002-2016), Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program: 452-453.

2015: “Some Thoughts on Failure,” Necessary Failures, Lisa Iglesias ed., (online zine 2015): 89-92.

2010: “Michael Dixon,” New American Paintings 89, August/September 2010, 24.

2008: “Michael Dixon at West Valley Art Museum,” Java, Michael Dixon and Onye Ozuzu, Dec. 2008, 14.



John Battenberg, Scottsdale, AZ

Nick Cave, Chicago, IL

Beverly McIver, Durham, NC

Petrucci Family Foundation



Chair and Full Professor of Art, Albion College, Albion, MI (faculty since 2008)



2018: Presenter, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, TN

2018: Lecture, Framingham State University, Framingham, MA

2018: Lecture, St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley, St. Louis, MO

2018: Artist Talk, Dairy Arts Center, Boulder, CO

2017: Artist Talk and Undergraduate Critiques, UNC Asheville, Asheville, NC

2017: Artist Talk and Social Justice Workshop, Peddie School, Hightstown, NJ

2016: Artist Talk and In-Class Drawing Demonstration, University of Redlands, Redlands, CA



“I use self-portraiture as a narrative device to explore the areas of identity, race, identity perception, African American history, and social justice. I often use my own racial identity as the topic of my work. I have experienced fluidity in the perception of my race and ethnicity as a light skinned, bi-racial Black man. My struggles to fit into a racial group category and how I fashion an authentic self, while constantly feeling like an outsider, is the foundational and emotional content of my work. I am primarily interested in the experiences of bi-racial people who might share in this struggle. Is there a unique bi-racial experience? My work seeks to find out.

“Along with my personal identity struggles, the historical legacy of racism in the United States for communities of color informs my experiences. My current work responds to the police killings of unarmed Black men, women, and children across America. While this is a constant attack on the Black community, the increased international media attention, public awareness, and public movements are new phenomena. The recent killings of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner to Tamir Rice and Michael Brown, illustrate that Black victims can range in age from 12 to 50 years old. This raises the question of the value of Black bodies in contemporary America, which is linked to a long history of violence against its Black population through slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration. My aim is to locate myself in this discussion as a bi-racial Black man who has both been the victim of racism and has in some instances “passed” for white because of my light skin. I see this as the cost of a legacy of racism that particularly troubles me and this conversation must continue.”



When I was growing up, I had several things that I dreamt of doing and these changed over time. Some of my earliest fantasies were about playing in the NFL! I loved football and baseball. I eventually became aware of environmental damage and animal extinctions. I was passionate about the environment and wanted to be in some career field where I would save the environment but wasn’t sure what that would look like. I also collected comic books and dreamt of being a comic book artist as a young teenager.


Identity work:

My earliest encounters with “fine art” came out of these Walt Disney books called, The Wonderful World of Knowledge. I vividly remember being drawn to a section on Renaissance art. I would look at these images often and thought the Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael art was so great. By the time I decided to study art in college, I knew that I wanted to be a figurative oil painter because of these images.

In college, I was drawn to the identity work that was being done at that time. [Dixon received his MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder.] Artists like Michael Ray Charles, Kerry James Marshall, Faith Ringgold, Robert Colescott, and Adrian Piper were artists that influenced me at an early stage in my art development. This would have been in the mid to late 1990s. I was drawn to this work because I struggled with my own identity. These artists spoke to me with their work like no other artists. I also was heavily influenced by one of my undergraduate faculty members at the time named Beverly McIver. She was a huge influence on me, an inspiration, and became my mentor.


Tree of art(ists):

My artist family tree starts with those artists that influenced me as a child. This would include Renaissance master artists like Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Later artists would include Rembrandt, Goya, and Gericault for their figurative subject matter, political content, and use of color and light. I would include the Impressionist period and artists after this for their direct painting technique, mark making, and color. I am particularly fond of Cassatt, Cezanne, Manet, and Monet but love all of the artists included in this time period. I love Toulouse-Lautrec and Egon Schiele for their line, drawing, and mark making. I look at the Ashcan School painters and especially Robert Henri. I think it is good painting and I like the subject matter.

After this, I would include Francis Bacon for the emotional content and rawness in his paint. I go to David Hockney and old Jim Dine for drawing. Beverly McIver, Faith Ringgold, Robert Colescott, Michael Ray Charles, Kerry James Marshall, Adrian Piper, Hung Liu, Glenn Ligon, Kara Walker, Romare Bearden, David Hammons, Lezley Saar, and Allison Saar are all artists that influenced me as a young artist especially for their content. I look at and love William Pope L, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, and Adrian Piper for performance art. Other artists would include Susanna Coffey, Ann Gale, Philip Pearlstein, Lucian Freud, Jenny Saville, Eric Fischl, Alice Neel, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo for their use of the figure and/or self-portraiture.

[Dixon has presented at Gatlinburg, Tennessee’s Arrowmont School of Arts + Crafts, and lectured at Framingham State University in Framingham, Massachusetts and at the St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley in Missouri.]


Dialogues + influences:

All of these artists, periods, or movements affect everything I do. I am in constant dialogue with the art that has come before me and the art that is being made now. These are influences that stay with me both consciously and unconsciously. These influences make me who I am as an artist today because they inform me and continue to inform me. I cannot separate myself from this history or the affect they have on my art making.



I would say that the Black Power Movement and Civil Rights Movement are two periods that I closely study and have relevance for me as a person of color and artist of color. I would also include the current Black Lives Matter Movement. These conversations make their way into my art, and I am very interested in any work that addresses social justice and equity.


In the moment, in the art:

My research on race, identity, and history generates ideas for paintings. It also puts my work into context and provides a conceptual foundation for my work. I will also gather titles from things I am reading or researching.


Art as opportunity:

My work is at its best when it creates questions and conversations with a viewer or viewers. I want viewers to have conversations about race and identity. It is my belief that visual art is a great catalyst toward creating opportunities for discussion.


Art of the self:

My work has been a great space for healing, self-reflection, and contemplation. I have discovered the most about myself through my work. It is a place where I can express myself honestly without judgment. There are older paintings that I go back to and sit with often. It is interesting to see where I was at that moment in time. These images are reminders of where I come from. I don’t spend too much time with them and they are more amusing then anything. I definitely look at older work and see all kinds of mistakes and things I would do differently.

[Dixon has been an artist-in-residence at Yaddo, at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (in France), and at the Vermont Studio Center, and has received grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the Joan Mitchell Foundation—among other awards and residencies.]



I would compare my work to the music of Nirvana or Rage Against the Machine because I find my work to be filled with angst. Both of these bands are angst ridden. They also happen to be two of my favorite bands of all time.



Nonrepresentational painting is work that doesn’t look like a recognizable “thing.” All of my work is rooted in observational drawing and painting. My work is representational, and I respond more to representation.


The one, two punch:

Currently I am quite fond of Manganese Blue. I think it is a soothing color. It makes me happy. This blue is a transparent hue so I pair it with Titanium White to create a soft baby blue color. The blue that these two pigments make is calm and cheerful. Often what I paint about is unpleasant. I like this calm baby blue to clash against my angst-filled content. These contradictory feelings are what artist Robert Colescott called the “one, two punch.” The baby blue brings you in closer to engage with the heavy content of the work.


Always available:

I do many self-portraits because I rely heavily on personal narrative in my work, and I am always available to model.



My work has been talked about in a variety of ways. I have had individuals who are inspired, engaged, and genuinely like my work. I have had people who were bi-racial that have been very gracious to me and excited to see themselves in my work. I have also had people think my work was offensive or racist.


Outside the binary:

I make art because I am compelled to and it is the best means of communication for me. In that regard I make my work for me first, but I do have viewers in mind. I specifically think first about people who are struggling with their identities. Bi-racial black people who find themselves left out of the typical binary way in which we talk about race. I would include gender and sexual orientation in this equation as well. I think about anyone who finds themselves in between worlds. I also think about the black community and my immediate white family much of the time.


Ample in Albion:

I live in Albion, Michigan, and teach at a small liberal arts college called Albion College. I grew up in San Diego, California. My current location affects my approach to art in that I live in an isolated community away from a real art scene. This is both good and bad. The negatives are that there is no art scene to attach myself to. I have to maintain my artist community remotely. I have less access to certain kinds of funding or art institutions. It is harder. The positives are that I have an abundance of space. My living expenses are cheap, which allows me to travel more. And, I have less distractions living in a small community. Ample space and time means I can get lots of work done.


Art for all:

I would love to see art valued in educational settings for children and youth. I would like to see more access to museums, art programming, and art spaces for underserved populations. I would like to see art more integrated into the community and the daily lives of everyone instead of being exclusive and inaccessible to certain communities and people.


Permission to be vulnerable—and honest:

What matters most to me as an artist is authenticity. Being authentic means an artist is creating imagery that is true to them, whether it is in vogue or not. I value honesty and vulnerability in art. This is the kind of work that I am attracted to viewing. I want to put these qualities in my work as much as possible. I believe people are attracted to honesty and vulnerability. If the artist is honest and vulnerable then it gives the viewer permission to do the same.