UMMA is profiling artists in our community through studio tours and visits. Follow along on UMMA's social media channels!
Matthew Tait and Audrey Elkus: TAIT Design Co.
Tait Design Co. founder, Matthew Tait, an advertising professional turned self-taught industrial designer, has been making intimately crafted and sophisticated toys for the Detroit marketplace, and beyond, since 2013.
You may recognize a few of their iconic pieces, such as the Kaku Dako Kite Kit, Turbo Flyer airplane, and Sling-Slang YOYO that are sold in the UMMA Store. Each product embraces a minimalist, modern design that impressively accentuates each object’s natural shape.
Sharon Que: Building with Found Materials
“Everything is a building block, I don’t plan things out,” says Sharon Que, an Ann Arbor artist. “I love what materials do, the way they break.”
Que is a what she calls a “found material” artist. She primarily works with scrap materials she finds and then recrafts into a piece—like using found metal to construct a sculpture. This is different from a “found object” artist, who usually does minimal manipulation to an object after they found it.
Jill Wagner: Chasing Light
“I like to drive around until I see something that is breathtaking, and then I paint it,” says Jill Wagner, an Ann Arbor artist who specializes in plein air painting.
Wagner is attracted to this style of painting because of its spontaneity and authenticity. “My whole goal is to paint what I see—to document what our lives are like right now.” She enjoys capturing a moment that is fleeting—preserving it through art.
Tom Phardel: Universal Shapes
“I try to make objects that look somewhat familiar but you don't know why,” says Tom Phardel, an artist that lives in Ann Arbor. “And there's always some element within the work that's hidden from your view.”
Phardel has deep roots in Ann Arbor, studying psychology and earning a BFA from Eastern Michigan University, and going on to an MFA at the University of Michigan. Though he did not plan to be an artist, his interests in ceramics led to professional work.
"I'm really into surface, and the surface tells a story," Phardel says.