J. MICHAEL SIMPSON -BIOGRAPHY
Simpson was born and raised in a small farm town just outside Decatur, Illinois (1946-1965). He received a B.A. in art from Western Illinois University in 1969 and an MFA from (1984) Illinois State University in painting. His graduate work explored acrylic and watercolor paintings of figures diving into pools of water backed by natural terrain. Eventually, the leaping figures disappeared leaving landscapes of water and clouds with a strong suggestion of spiritual existence. During a vacation in Estes Park, Colorado, Simpson discovered white water streams and began a series of paintings called “The River Series”. These paintings explored turbulent water movement as metaphors for the flux and flow of life.
In 1985 Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama) offered Simpson as position teaching fundamentals (1985-1992). As he continued working on the “River Series” the work was recognized by the Alabama State Council with an Arts Grant in Painting (1990), and by the Millay Colony for the Arts in with a residency (Austerlitz, New York, 1991). He discussed his work at a Southeastern College Art Conference in a panel lecture entitled “Sublime Loss” (1994). Simpson as a member of SECAC also participated in two other panel discussions concerning text in art (1988 and 1991).
In addition to teaching Simpson has served as the Alabama representative to the Southeaster College Art Conference (1991-1994) and was chair of the ad hoc committee that wrote the SECAC guidelines for promotion and tenure (1994). He also was the conference coordinator (1992-94) for F.A.T.E (Foundations in Art: Theory and Education) and served as the regional vice president (1994-95). He chaired three regional panel discussions (1994, 1995, and 2001) and one national panel (2001) concerning fundamentals education.
In 1995 Simpson moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan and taught fundamentals as a visiting lecturer at Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti, Michigan, 1996-1998). In 1997 his traveling exhibition titled “Elevations” culminated in a one-person show at the Alpena Museum of Art (Alpena, Michigan)
A teaching opportunities brought him back to the South where he taught part-time at Winthrop University (Rock Hill, South Carolina, 1998-2006) and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, North Carolina, 1999-present). Since 2006 he has taught fundamentals and painting as a full time lecturer at UNCC. He lives in Rock Hill, South Carolina and maintains a studio rented from the Arts Council of York County. Examples of his work have been featured in Arts and Antiques, (1999), Artis Spectrum (2000), Watercolor Magic (2001) and a pamphlet that documented his work funded by grants from the Arts Council of Rock Hill and York County and the Arts and Science Foundation of Mecklenburg County.
In 2005 Simpson was awarded and affiliate residency at the McColl Center for the Visual Arts for a new series called "ReStreameRs". The series focuses on the shpae of of a moment utilizing large scale irregularly shaped canvas panels. At the McColl, quite by accident Simpson was loaned a video camera instead of a still camera to record close-ups of the Saluda River in northwestern South Carolina. This accident has lead to using digital video to reference his work with abstract videos of the turbulent waters of the Saluda River. Now the work includes sequences of paintings, drawings, video productions, and video installations that fuse “low and high tech” media.