Michael Mapes

“The samples are part of my most recent series of work examining Dutch Master Portraiture. In this work, I deconstruct the original subject, in both a figurative and literal sense by dissecting photos of a painting and considering ways in which the parts might serve to inspire new parts within the reconstruction to suggest unique and complex meanings. I’ve done these works with the use of a visual metaphor suggesting a pseudoscientific method specifically working with materials and processes signifying
entomological, biological and forensic science.”

Michael Mapes was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Illinois in 1992. Technically, Mapes is a portraitist, though he rarely uses paint. Instead, the recreates the human face by arranging different tiny materials into highly detailed works of art. Each of his pieces is constructed from what he describes as “biographical DNA,” the little fragments of physical information he mixes to create a finished portrait. Each final piece is made up of thousands of individual
specimens consisting of dissected photographs and genetic information about the subject in the form of hair, fingernails, scent, eyelashes, fingerprints, makeup, handwriting, and breath. The representations of his subjects are dissected and then reconstructed through artistic interpretation invoking entomological, forensic, and artistic methods. Dutch Specimen MT 1639 is based on Rembrandt van Rijn’s 1639 portrait of
Maria Trip.