Coaxed Materials

Michele Ratté’s alchemy

Michele Ratté’s art centers on precious metals, found objects and various art techniques from drawing to printmaking to weaving wire. Her work is heavily influenced by her father’s profession—a hydro-geologist who took Michele to the Arizona desert while he searched for signs of water, or later in the Virgin Islands when he taught marine geology. Michele’s work reflects her passion for earth and sea and the juxtaposition between precious metals and every day materials.1

In addition to her art, Michele is also an inventor. She was awarded in 2006 a U.S. patent for a method she, artist Joan Morris, and chemist Dr. Miklos Breuer developed for permanent gilding onto textile surfaces, which appeared in her Animation series, a collaborative project with fellow artist Joan Morris.

She writes the following of the intention of her art and using gold in various pieces:

"For me art making is an energetic and inexplicable collaboration between matter, intention, and the unknowable. Much of my sculpture is informed by a life-long fascination with marine environments. Within that framework I explore ideas such as degradation, regeneration and transformation, micro- and macroscapes, density and weightlessness, fragility and endurance. Central to my work is the mutability
of light and color, fluidity of movement, and pulse of repeated patterns.

I am often asked about the use of precious metal in my work. Gold is an ultimate material: inextinguishable, reflective, symbolic and metaphoric. Inevitably gold communicates its history—its formation deep within the earth’s body by forces and in a time frame beyond our grasp. It is a material carrying the freight of our human dance with it.

My methods integrate found-object gathering, drawing, printmaking, shaping and assembling. Malleable, delicate elements (precious metals, soft materials, etc.) are joined with objects of substance (stones, shells, bells, wire, etc.). I like the synergy of linking dissimilar elements and coaxing materials into an unfamiliar setting. I am also drawn to incorporating cast-off articles animated by the energy of their previous use or environment, such as fishing wire tangled by the sea."

According to her website, Michele is working on a print-making and sculpture process based on geological and socio-ecological themes and it will be dedicated to her father.

For more information and to view her work, please visit www.micheleratte.com.

1Artscope Magazine, September/October 2016 Issue. 

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