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Michelle MacKinnon, Matt, 2012, Powdered Graphite on Paper, 50″ x 60″ (127 x 152cm). Kingston, ON. © Michelle MacKinnon.


Michelle MacKinnon

–Kingston, Ontario–


About the Artist:

Michelle MacKinnon is a Kingston, Ontario based visual artist working primarily in large scale portraiture.  MacKinnon graduated in 2011 from York University with a BFA in Visual Arts with Honours and Cum Laude status.  She has exhibited her work at various galleries in Canada and participated in residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts and the inaugural State Hermitage Young Artist Residency in St. Petersburg, Russia. She was awarded the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant for Emerging International Artists, the Nan Yeomans Grant for Emerging Artists, a BMO FirstArt Nomination, the Salon Prize, a Youth Artist Award from Canada’s National Youth Arts Week and various other awards and honours from York University.


About the Work:

These works are from the series After All, We All Have Secrets, a combination of a list of exposed secrets, with no direct link to whose they are, and portraits of the sitters expressing their emotions/reactions to a secret they hold.  By anonymously submitting secrets to the artist and later posing for a portrait depicting their secret, this series strikes a juxtaposition between public and private spheres of secrecy. Publically, these secrets, and therefore their keepers, have been indirectly exposed.  Viewers are asked to intuitively match the portrait to their secret, or become empathetic to the portrait deriving from relation to their own secrets. Privately, the confession becomes an outlet for the sitter; a chance to formally acknowledge and confront their secret, yet with the knowledge that no one but themselves will be entirely aware as to which secret is theirs. It becomes a veiled breach of the private into the public; a connection without fact.  After all, we all have secrets.


Some secrets:

“I’m still afraid of the dark.”

“I blame my suburban upbringing and overprotective mother as the main contributing factors to my lack of knowledge of the world and fear of underachieved self sufficiency. The alternative truth is that I am lazy, unmotivated and don’t know how to change”

“I am a sleepwalker. Once I chose to climb onto the end of my bed, jumped off and tried to breathe in the oxygen up near the ceiling, or so says my sleepwalking self.”

“I have been in love with the same person for a little over 4 years now.  I’ve always had difficulty understanding how feelings are not by choice; this person is my anomaly.”

“Two different people think they have my virginity.”

“I think a well known secret about me, if one pays attention, is that I cannot keep my own secrets.”

“I wish I still believed in ‘happily ever after.'”


Michelle MacKinnon, Brendan, 2012. Powdered Graphite on Paper, 50″ x 60″ (127 x 152cm). Kingston, ON. © Michelle MacKinnon.


Michelle MacKinnon, Maria, 2012. Powdered Graphite on Paper, 50″ x 60″ (127 x 152 cm). Kingston, ON. © Michelle MacKinnon.


View of the artist’s studio. © Michelle MacKinnon




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