Carolina Art Crush: Micah Cash

Over the past couple of years, we have really enjoyed watching Micah Cash make a splash in the Charlotte art scene. His minimalist landscape paintings continue to pop up around town (maybe you’ve seen them at Sozo Gallery), and he has proven himself to be a big collaborator and connector. You can see his work in this summer’s new No Vacancy program, which bills itself as “an opportunity for the adventurous artist or art-goer to encounter visual and performance art in a new way. No fourth wall. No division. All experience.” More info below.

Enjoy getting to know Micah!

1. Portrait (1)

HappeningsCLT: Describe yourself in three words.

Micah Cash: Modestly understated geek.

HCLT: Who or what inspires you creatively?

MC: I have always been drawn to the concept of Place: the landscapes that are defined by it, the people that create it, and the narratives that evolve out of it. That is usually the starting point for a body of work, then I begin to ask questions and unpack my observations. In addition, music has always been my bedrock. No matter the genre or compositional time period. I’m hardly ever without a soundtrack.

Micah Cash, Ocoee #2, 2015. Oil on canvas. 28 x 32 inches. This work will be on view in 80x80, an exhibition by the Young Affiliates of the Mint.

Micah Cash, Ocoee #2, 2015. Oil on canvas. 28 x 32 inches. This work will be on view in 80×80, an exhibition by the Young Affiliates of the Mint.

HCLT: Where can we see your work?

MC: I have paintings at Sozo Gallery here in Charlotte and will have work in 80×80 at The Mint Museum [editor’s note: this exhibition is curated by outside jurors and executed by the Young Affiliates of the Mint]. Also, I am creating an interactive art installation as part of the No Vacancy performance series, which is being held at C3 Lab, opening Friday, June 3. The installation will change with each performance, so be sure to make repeat visits.

The public is always welcome to come by my studio at Union Shop Studio on Wilkinson Blvd. And, of course, you can find me at http://www.micahcash.com.

HCLT: Tell us about your work.

MC: My studio practice centers on how landscapes are influenced by social and cultural geography. I view landscape as a social document, one that can be read through the lenses of race, class, and gender. Themes of land use, demarcation, and utility are explored across media; however, most of my projects are finalized through painting and photography.

My most recent paintings have been informed by hydroelectric dams and their surrounding residential and recreational space. The resulting images are recreations of real spaces, but severely abstracted and reconfigured to represent how I remember those locations. Both on-site visits and historical research have colored the narrative of these place and warped the memory of their architecture. I communicate the tension of these locations through subtle color palettes and a combination of hard edged shapes and painterly mark making.

I have also been photographing hydroelectric dam reservations owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. The project, which I’ve been working on for three years, is titled Dangerous Waters and considers the tenuous balance between locations that are designed for both hydroelectric generation and public recreation.

Both bodies of work are approaching resolution and I have some new things working in the studio and out in the field, so keep an eye out!

Micah Cash, Apalachia, Reservation. archival pigment print. 2015.

Micah Cash, Apalachia, Reservation. archival pigment print. 2015.

HCLT: What do you think is the most valuable art experience in the Carolinas?

MC: This summer’s No Vacancy performance series, which kicks off June 3 is an attempt to do something in Charlotte that will hopefully have lasting ramifications. Organized by Brianna Susan Smith and Jeffrey Barninger, supported by the Knight Foundation, and hosted by C3 Labs, the summer-long event is a truly organic artistic space. Both the performers and the visual artists will be responding to the installation designed and built by Barninger. It will be an artistic conversation that evolves from week to week and is fully participatory for the audience.

Even if you can’t make it to this event in Charlotte, I encourage everyone to get out and see art. Art requires community, and a thriving community requires art that asks hard questions instead of providing easy answers. So be vulnerable and experience new things, no matter where you live.

HCLT: What book is on your nightstand right now?

MC: Several: Of Dice and Men by David M. Ewalt, Undermining by Lucy Lippard, Missoula by Jon Krakauer, and I Never Met A Story I Didn’t Like by Todd Snider. I’m also working my way through The Lord of the Rings for the fourth time, so those books never really leave the nightstand.

Micah Cash, Wheeler, Powerhouse, 2016. Oil on canvas. 30 x 48 inches.

Micah Cash, Wheeler, Powerhouse, 2016. Oil on canvas. 30 x 48 inches.

HCLT: When did you realize you were an artist?

MC: There was never a specific moment. Being an artist was always a part of my drive and identity in some capacity. I was raised in a theatre family, almost became a professional musician, and hung out with quite a few writers; however, my communication of choice has always been visual.

HCLT: Best meal in Charlotte?

MC: Best or most reliable? I won’t lie to you – I love Tex-Mex, and any lover of Tex-Mex will tell you that the only place to get it (outside of Mi Tierra in San Antonio, Texas) is Chuy’s. It seems silly to answer this question with a franchise, but Chuy’s is legit and my absolute go-to.

Micah Cash, Cherokee, 2014. Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches.

Micah Cash, Cherokee, 2014. Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches.

HCLT: What is up next?

MC: Lots of new work and plenty of new paintings. In addition to a couple of long-term photo projects still in the research stages, I’m working on a couple of Charlotte-based projects, including exploring landscapes of mobility and recreation throughout the city from the entry point of property value and per capita income. Stay tuned for some exciting things! Further down the road, I have a solo exhibition in September at McDaniel College in Maryland and my photo book Dangerous Waters will be published next fall by University of Tennessee Press.

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