[New Orleans, LA ::: b. 1979 - Chicago, IL]

MICHAEL PAJON attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a focus in printmaking. Eventually gravitating to the graphic nature of the medium that closely resembled the comics he loved, he worked closely as an assistant/studio manager to renowned artist Tony Fitzpatrick. During this time he started making assemblages of the bits and pieces he had accumulated from alleys, junkshops, and thrift stores, slicing up old children's book covers and rearranging their innards into disjointed tales of Americana.  

Pajon's work has been exhibited in various venues worldwide, including the Illinois State Museum (Chicago, IL), Chicago Cultural Center, Prospect 1.5 curated by Dan Cameron (New Orleans, LA), Adam Baumgold Gallery (New York, NY), Nau-haus Art Space (Houston, TX), Mobile Museum of Art (Mobile, AL), Dishman Art Museum (Beaumont, TX), and Acadiana Center for the Arts (Lafayette, LA).  His work has been shown in numerous art fairs including VOLTA New York, VOLTA10 (Basel, Switzerland), Miami Project, Art on Paper (New York, NY), Nova Art Fair Bridge London, Aqua Art Fair (Miami, FL), Next Art Fair, Chicago, IL, Texas Contemporary Art Fair (Houston, TX), Art Market San Francisco, and the Seattle Art Fair.

Pajon has been featured in Forbes, Installation Magazine, Kolaj Magazine, Basler Zeitung, Daily Serving, Where Magazine, Juxtapoz, ArtInfo, Artlyst, New City, Artnet, Artslant, Oxford American, Gambit Weekly, The New Orleans Advocate and Pelican Bomb.  His work appears in numerous public and private collections including International Collage Center (New York, NY), 21c Museums (Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; Bentonville, AR; Durham, NC), Purchase College, the Francis H. Williams Collection (Wellesley, MA), and Thomas & Dathel Coleman.

Collage is a scavengers' medium, and though collected from the discarded, this work is not meant to be nostalgic. It is this ghost that haunts the back of your closet, and whispers to you in your sleep. These bits of bone and sinew are not unlike a memento mori--a remembrance of ones mortality--in a state of reanimation. These maps, postcards, children's book illustrations, matchbooks, sheet music, and calling cards are the guts and gristle of common things people collected over a life, spared the fate of being buried in the rubble and shadows of once prosperous towns, of the work of the grass. 

This group of work contemplates the most humble of human remains: old matchbooks from junk shops, antique postcards and books, sheet music, cracker jack toys, and other objects once treasured, lost and resurrected. By collaging these elements amidst drawings and other media, I create small relationships to arrive at a whole image. Like delicate strands of DNA, these tiny pieces in combination hold the key to unique identity--the common as well as the fantastic. 

During the rough and tumble days of western expansion and manifest destiny, people raised entire families traveling by wagon caravan from the East to the Midwest and the Great Plains. Later, they struck out toward the Rockies and then onward to California and Alaska during the gold rush. Some people settled in places solely for promise of fortune, others to work for the railroad that was carving its way west, still others for the adventure of a dime novel. Along the way their hands and backs provided shelter, hunted game, raised livestock, birthed and buried their loved ones... I see in these cabinet cards and tin types a certain stoicism that goes beyond the stiff posture required for early black and white photography. 

I see craftsman, butchers, bakers, nurses, killers, thieves, lawyers, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. Part of what I imagine contributed to this stony façade was the weight of a heavy heart, and the promise they hoped for lost or beyond reach. Death was part of the everyday, no matter class, color, creed or occupation. They lost family and friends to the common cold, fever, untreated wounds, and any number of incidents involving an argument with unsavory men. 

Because of advances in printmaking and photography a man or woman of little means could have their portrait made to share with friends and loved ones; something I imagine one would look upon when receiving a letter, to give a face to the writer's voice. Some appear to have been just lucky enough to find some clean clothes to wear for their portrait, while others don elaborate suits and gowns. A spark of narrative from the way the person in the photo is glancing or how they dressed or posed. The light of day upon them once more.


[download full CV below]

2003 Bachelor of Fine Arts, School of the Art Institute, Chicago, IL

2017      Ex Libris, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2015      Palimpsest, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2013     O Bury Me Not, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2013     O Bury Me Not, VOLTA NY, New York, NY
2012     They Buried Their Dead and Sharpened Their Tools, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2009     Nau-haus Art Space, Houston, TX

2015    ArtFields, Lake City, SC 
2014    VOLTA10 Art Fair, via Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, Basel, Switzerland
2012     Configure/Reconfigure: Transformations of the Body, Acadiana Center for the Art, Lafayette, La
2012     Whitney White Linen Night, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2011     Prospect 2 Group Exhibition 1036 Esplanade, Dan Cameron Curator, New Orleans LA
2011     Abercrombie Gallery, 24th McNeese Works on Paper, Lake Charles, LA
2010     Prospect 1.5 (Fresh off the Turnip Truck), Dan Cameron Curator, New Orleans, LA
2010     Get it together show, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL
2009     Ammo Art Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2008     Next Art Fair, Allegoric Space, Chicago, IL
2008     Alchemy; Collage and Assemblage, Santa Fe, NM
2007     Aqua Art Fair, Adam Baumgold Gallery, Miami, FL
2007     Bridge London, Allegoric Projects, London, UK
2007     April Group show, Drawn to the Edge, Adam Baumgold Gallery, NY, NY
2007     Kitsch ‘n’ Sync Group Show, La Luz De Jesus, Los Angeles, CA