Artist’s Biography

Catherine Alice Michaelis is a highly accomplished artist, lecturer, publisher, curator, teacher, and most recently – videopoet and animator living in Shelton, WA. She is best known for her artist’s books and printmaking projects, incorporating letterpress and pressure printing techniques.

Michaelis studied at Southern Oregon State College (Ashland) and the University of Oregon (Eugene) prior to earning a BA in Media Arts & Creative Nonfiction from Evergreen State College in Olympia. Her work has been featured in several solo exhibitions including at Wessel & Lieberman (Seattle), the John Wilson Special Collections (Multnomah County Library, Portland), and the University of Puget Sound Collins Library (Tacoma), in addition to dozens of group shows including Tacoma Art Museum, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Museum of Northwest Art (La Conner), Berkeley Arts Center, Academy Art Center in Honolulu, and the Skylight Gallery at San Francisco Public Library.

Her work is featured in numerous prominent art collections – public and private – including Art Institute of Chicago, Dartmouth College Library, Stanford University, University of Washington – Allen Library, British Library in West Yorkshire, England, and Yale University.

Michaelis has been honored with numerous awards, citations and scholarships including from Bumbershoot Book Award, Northwest Bookfest, and The Evergreen State College Foundation Scholarship for Achievement in the Arts. She will be featured in a Craft in America NATURE episode – the award winning film series - airing on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in spring 2017.

Michaelis’ artwork is regularly featured in the Sherry Grover Gallery – the heart of BIMA’s artist’s books collection curated by our Founder, Cynthia Sears. Please be sure to visit this second floor gallery for a deeper understanding of the world of artist’s books.

Artist’s Statement

I began studying art design in second grade as I spied on a classmate’s use of color for “November,” a seasonally themed picture outline we were given each month by our teacher, Mrs. Turner. Color became an obsession thereafter. My grandmother Alice taught me embroidery with crazy quilt stitching when I was nine and introduced me to nature with a devoted hand toward plants. With leaves & flowers, needle & thread, I entered the world of craft making. It was my mother who made me the family story keeper.

I was introduced to letterpress printing in 1989 by Rayna Holtz and Mary Shackelford at Laughing Dog Press on Vashon Island, WA. After a yearlong apprenticeship, I designed, and printed my first book, Making Poetry Appear. With no motor or treadle on the Chandler & Price, I turned the wheel and fed the paper by myself. Influenced by the vision of Rayna and Mary, I launched May Day Press on May 1st, 1992. I now print on a Vandercook 4 and a 10x15 C&P located by the South Salish Sea, near Shelton, WA. Here I work amidst cedars, ravens, and eagles overhead, and trilliums, salal, and mahonia underfoot. In 2011, to re-inform my art practice, I enrolled in The Evergreen State College in Olympia where I focused on film & video and writing creative non-fiction.

Through artist books my creative worlds merge: I gravitate to plants for image making, immerse myself in research, collect, and write. I bring image and text together through needle and thread, highlighting sewing in much of my work. Recently influenced by early 20th century poets and book artists who were inspired by the moving image at the advent of film and who largely drove the experimental film movement in Europe, I straddle the 15th century of letterpress and the 21st century of film and videography, reveling in moving word and image on the screen through light, sound, and color.

I am Cherokee/Choctaw/mixed European on my mother’s side and German/ Polish on my father’s side. Cultural exploration has driven my printmaking and writing practice, and migrated into videopoetry and video-essay. Family is another crazy quilt in the making – unraveling while being sewn. I honor my grandmother Alice, born on the Blue River in Oklahoma, who showed me the way of beauty and gifted me the world.


More Exhibitions


Mike Biskup: Connection

Toni Hall Orientation Gallery
December 05 - February 03, 2019
More Information