Many artists find a niche and stick to it, but some particularly talented individuals are successful across an array of media. Providence artist Michael Ezzell is equally skilled in creating paintings, prints, and murals with a uniform and recognizable voice. In a current exhibition at Imago Gallery in Warren, a recent series of paintings on cleverly shaped panels shows off yet another facet of his creative acumen. His latest work is a reminder that Ezzell is one of the most promising individuals in a younger generation of Rhode Island artists.
Originally from the midwest, Ezzell earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration at Georgia’s renowned Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 2014. Now based in Rhode Island, Ezzell has established himself as an essential member of the creative community. Ensconced in the local artistic scene, he has also developed a wider following for his signature creative vision.
The key motif that binds Ezzell’s work is the iconography of myth. Greek and Roman gods often appear in his imagery. His aesthetic is fluid and linear. Ezzell credits a fourth-grade literature project with inculcating an interest in such symbolism, which has stayed with him in his artistic practice. Last year, he traveled to Greece for the first time, finding inspiration and content for future artistic ventures.
Through July 10, 2022, a sampling of Ezzell’s work is on view at Imago Gallery in Warren, where he is a guest artist. At the gallery, recent panel paintings shaped like amphorae recall the ancient tendency to tell stories on ceramics. Ezzell’s palette in the series is reminiscent of the type used on vase paintings that inspired him. The collection is remarkably inventive and unusual. Imago’s public hours are Thursdays 3-6 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 12 – 6 pm, and Sundays 12 – 4 pm.
When asked how he hopes visitors experience the work he is showing in Warren, Ezzell says, “So much of my work is about the altering of stories and creating new worlds. It invites viewers to escape for a moment into new realms of imagination and a skewed sense of reality.”
In addition to his panel paintings, Ezzell has added an increasing number of murals to his portfolio. A recent collaboration with The Avenue Concept brought a series of his colorful wall paintings to Woonsocket. In the East Bay, Ezzell has completed murals at two restaurants. Providence residents can find his work on a broad wall alongside Blick Art Supplies on Wickenden Street, and can also frequently see Ezzell’s hand in the rotating window paintings at Frog and Toad’s Hope Street location. Still, other murals grace the facade of Tiny Bar in the Jewelry District, and a wall inside Westwey Club downtown. Ezzell was also recently selected as one of six artists to complete murals for the newly renovated Davey Lopes Recreation Center. To put it simply, he is prolific.
Speaking of the connection between his mural work and the art he creates in his studio, Ezzell explains, “Color probably has had the most influence. While I tend to lean more towards a limited color palette, my murals have introduced me to a broader spectrum of colors that have snuck their way into my studio work.”
Although he is increasingly known for his public artworks, Ezzell has already established a reputation for his talent as a skilled printmaker. Creating images using traditional copperplate etching techniques, Ezzell leverages line, design, and texture to bring characters to life in vivid detail. In his ephemera-packed studio at Nicholson File in Providence, Ezzell maintains his press. Alongside his panel paintings at Imago Gallery, visitors will also find two fine samples of his printmaking.
The community of artists at Nicholson File has become a support system for Ezzell. Of the space in the Valley Arts District, the artist states, “Ever since moving into the studio space at Nicholson File four years ago, I have felt so welcome and supported by the family I have there. There is an energetic charge that comes when working alongside such talented artists.”
Ezzell is not just an active artist on the local scene. He is also an emerging talent on the rise. Following his career, art enthusiasts will discover a dedicated and multi-talented artist who is poised for success.
When asked what’s coming up for him, he details a busy future, saying, “I was invited to have a solo exhibition in the Alumni Gallery in the museum of my alma mater, SCAD, so I will be spending this summer into early fall creating new work for that. Then I will be heading to France for a two-week residency where I’ll spend some time figuring out what’s to come next.”