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From suicidal to surreal: Fresno State student artist uses artwork to inspire positivity

By | December 01, 2013 | Arts & Entertainment

Before she graduates, 23-year-old artist Katy Michelle said she plans to make the most of her last few weeks at Fresno State.

An art show on Thursday will serve as her last “hoorah” in the area before she moves to Los Angeles to pursue art, music and acting.

“I’m really excited about it,” Michelle said. “For this show, I was inspired by rave culture; all my pieces are about spreading positivity. They’re about peace, love, unity and respect.”

Thursday’s show will be at the Fresno Arthouse from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is free, and she said guests will be able to have food, music and buy prints of her featured art.

Michelle will be one of about 15 artists showing at the event. She said she’ll be featuring two types of art.

“The two styles I love creating are surrealistic pieces and portraits of iconic figures that I admire,” she said. “My medium is mostly colored pencil.”

Photo courtesy of Katy Michelle A flyer Fresno State psychology and theatre arts major Katy Michelle designed to promote her artwork. Michelle’s next art show will take place Thursday at the Fresno Arthouse from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Katy Michelle
A flyer Fresno State psychology and theatre arts major Katy Michelle designed to promote her artwork. Michelle’s next art show will take place Thursday at the Fresno Arthouse from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Michelle said she’s glad to be featured in one last event before she leaves town.

“I’ve acted in the plays at Fresno State, and I do open mics around town,” Michelle said. “Overall, Fresno State has just been such an incredible experience for me.”

Michelle is a double major in psychology and theatre arts. When she’s not acting, writing music or drawing, she’s working at Fresno State’s Central California Center for Autism.

She said she plans to continue working in both the arts and psychology when she moves to LA.

“I love working with the autistic community, so that’s something I’m going to be doing,” she said. “But I also want to find an art show in Hollywood and get that set up. I’m going to pursue acting and music, going to start joining theaters down there and start auditioning.”

Michelle has already had her art featured in shows in Hollywood, San Diego and all around Fresno, but she said she still wants to further her career as an artist.

“I just want to immerse myself in all kinds of art,” Michelle said. “I’m hoping to be able to support myself with art, whether it’s through paintings, acting or music.”

She said art has truly been a lifelong passion.

“I started taking private art lessons when I was 10 years old,” she said. “I’ve been drawing for about 13 years, so I’ve had a lot of time to perfect my skills.”

Michelle said art has helped her through some of the darkest, most difficult times in her life.

“I struggled with depression for a very long time, and art has helped me get through that,” she said. “It’s my release and my escape.”

At 17, Michelle said art helped her in an especially poignant way.

“I tried to commit suicide,” she said. “I was kind of numb and cold after that. But as time went on in the coming months, I realized that if I’m at that point where I just want to kill myself–-if I feel this bad–-why don’t I just try to go after my dreams and see what happens?”

After spending a couple of years in community college in Bakersfield, Michelle applied to Fresno State to pursue psychology and art.

“I think it was hard at first, picking my head up,” she said. “It was a constant battle for me, back and forth, but the music and the art helped me get through that. That was my release. That’s what helped me through hard times.”

On Thursday, Michelle said she hopes the positivity in her art will uplift others as well.

“Most of my artwork is really happy and upbeat because I want to spread positivity and love,” she said. “That’s the kind of mood I want to bring about with my art. I want you to look at it and feel good, feel happy and take inspiration from it.”

Michelle said she doesn’t regret the dark times in her past because they helped make her who she is today.

“I just live my life in the present moment. I think that’s why I do so many things. I just want to keep going; I just want to keep riding that energy train,” she said. “And you know what? Things are really good right now.”

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