Michelle Vulama is a Canadian artist, originating from Vancouver, BC. Though her work is diverse in form and content, she is chiefly recognised for her original and distinct style of rock-painting.
To those close to her, Vulama’s artistic potential was evident from an early age. As a child she dabbled in an abundance of artistic forms: everything from shoe-box dollhouses, to delicately crafted sock-puppets, to the sketches of ‘pig-faced people’ which still resonate in her current work. However, it wasn’t until her late teens that Vulama, having acquired a job as an office assistant at Vancouver’s Clochard Gallery, found the inspiration, guidance and encouragement to hone her talents and find her artistic niche.
Despite having received no formal artistic education, Vulama has always been fascinated by the idea that she can use her skills to transform ‘bits of garbage into something people will admire and value’. Consequently, Vulama frequently took to painting on unusual canvases such as jam-jar lids and cereal boxes. Experimentation with a multitude of these atypical mediums enabled Vulama to refine her canvas-preference and ultimately led her to develop her unique penchant for rock-painting.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of Vulama’s work is the relationship between the artist and her chosen canvas. Rather than simply using the rock as a backdrop to a pre-planned design, Vulama is adamant that each rock dictates its own identity:
‘All the work is sketched out on them for me already… I just finish them off.’
Indeed, this principle is highlighted by the way Vulama approaches her work – bringing forth her images by gently emphasising the rock’s natural blemishes, curves and contours. Most importantly however, no rock is ever altered from its natural state. The finished painting, despite its new appearance, is still the same rock that was found by the waterfall, beneath the bridge or dug up from the earth.
Since the inception of her unique method in 1999, Vulama’s work has been displayed widely throughout the Greater Vancouver area. On receiving an honourable mention for ‘The Goats’ at Coquitlam’s Place des Arts’ Innovations (2000), Vulama progressed to exhibitions at the Lone Cypress Gallery (Port Moody, BC) and the much acclaimed Harrison Gallery in Vancouver. Showcase events include ‘Drawn from Stone’ at Port Moody’s Blackberry Gallery (2002) as well as more recent exhibitions at Niko’s Salon and The Granville Island Hotel (2007).
In April 2009 Vulama began regularly vending her artwork at the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver.
Michelle Vulama currently resides in Vancouver, BC.