Touchstone | Sonya Michel Seeing My Way

By Editorial Team on March 28, 2022

Fri, 01 April 2022 - Sun, 01 May 2022

Pink Recycle, 2021.  Mixed media on canvas 24” x 18”

Public Opening: Sunday, April 3, 3 – 5 pm

Maryland Professor of History Turns to Art Seeing My Way ” an exhibit of work by Sonya Michel, will open at Touchstone Gallery on April 3. Michel, a noted historian of U.S. women and social policy, began her career in art after retiring from a professorship at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2016. She joined Touchstone several years later and presented some of her work in a virtual solo show in 2020. This will be her first in-person solo exhibit.

According to Michel, the title of her show has two meanings. The first refers to the process by which she became an artist. After many years of teaching and publishing (she is the author or editor of some thirteen books and dozens of articles), she decided to return to her “first love”: making art. Since then, she has been exploring and experimenting with many different media as she develops ways to express how she sees the world and responds to it.

The title’s second meaning emphasizes Michel’s effort to “find her voice,” to see things her way. She began her new career with painting but soon found herself drawn to less conventional materials—what she calls “the stuff of everyday life”: packaging and labels; textiles, paper and plastics; “found objects,” large and small. She incorporates these things into her work as-is or prepares them by tearing, painting, crunching or otherwise modifying them. The results take the form of collages and assemblages as well as works on canvas.

Michel points out that her artwork is not unconnected to her previous output as a scholar. There, she  addressed women’s experience and how it has been shaped not just by the ideologies, laws and policies of their day but also by the built environments in which they live and work. These days, she says, she is “intrigued by modern domesticity and the colors, textures and shapes of items that compose it—not just the products themselves but the packaging in which they arrive.” At the same time, she notes, “I can’t help seeing the perils of abundance: the stuff that enables our lifestyles also clutters the world and poisons our air and water. To borrow a phrase from William Butler Yeats, it is a terrible form of beauty.”

Masks are required inside the gallery. Open hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday 12-5. For more information contact the Director, at

901 New York Avenue NW Washington DC 20001 ● 202-682-4125 ● Fri, Sat, Sun 12-5 ● ●