Michael Walsh

Currently based in the San Francisco Bay, Michael Walsh is a versatile artist with a strong foundation in sculpture and industrial design. His art career is marked by his pioneering use of cutting-edge digital technologies and seamlessly integrating these digital manufacturing methods into his practice.

Drawing inspiration from the rich tradition of industrial craftsmanship, Michael Walsh’s artistic journey began with graffiti-style writing on the East Coast in the pre-millennium era. He attributes the industrial landscape and painting in old steel mills and factories in Pennsylvania as the foundation for his evolution into fabricating heavy metal sculptural works and foundry. Walsh’s sculpting is often fueled by dynamic rhythms and melody in music, transforming the fluidity and energy of sound into physical forms that embody movement and waveforms.

Over the years, Michael Walsh has surpassed conventional sculptural practices by embracing modern digital tools of modeling in virtual reality, CAD and 3D printing. This innovative approach allows him to push the boundaries of his creative expression, merging traditional techniques with contemporary digital advancements.

In his new solo exhibition, Exploration, Michael Walsh showcases his latest body of work featuring vibrant, 3-D printed wall hangings and sculptures designed with VR and CAD modeling software. This collection highlights the fruits of his artistic exploration, reflecting his ability to blend these technologies seamlessly into his creative practice. The new pieces showcased, predominantly created in the past year, reflect the evolution of Walsh’s practice, advancements in digital tools, his innovative spirit and dedication to pushing the limits of artistic expression.

Forging ahead of History
By Carlos Mare

Michael Walsh aka Prism found his youthful passions on the gritty streets of Pittsburgh, enjoying skateboarding, music, and graffiti as gateways into his artistic practices. Looking to find place and purpose in an environment where urban blight set in after the steel mills were shuttered he turned to painting walls and freight trains even using abandoned steel mill surfaces as a canvas. This left an imprint on him, influencing his sense of place and igniting his passion for industrial design and fabrication. Having developed a strong blue collar work ethos and a fearless approach to exploring the new, he delved into the labor-intensive world of metal fabrication in order to explore a new emerging genre of sculpture art informed by graffiti lettering.

It was not long before he would develop his own language and process’ to explore the potential of the medium through welding, iron casting, and other methodologies which he had to teach himself and learned among other local artists

Refusing to be confined by traditional genres and materials, Walsh set out to explore art within the context of history and future innovations like 3D printing and Virtual Reality, reimagining possibilities that had never been seen before. By fusing the iconography of graffiti, and influences from past artists, he creates art reflective of his time. His new works demonstrate the potential of interdisciplinary crossovers from all his interests—art, architecture, music, fabrication, and technology. By working simultaneously through analog and digital processes, he creates pieces that range from organically amorphous forms, where fluidity abandons structure, and are meticulously refined through virtual and digital techniques. These organic forms, conjured from VR and musical riffs on his guitar, produce works that awkwardly and unexpectedly writhe with tension and release into open space. These pieces, labored in virtual space, further refined in CAD, and finalized in the fabrication shop, exemplify the integration of traditional metal sculpture techniques with modern technologies.

The newer exploratory works assembled from 3d prints showcase his interest not just in the technology but in its potential to become bonafide works of art, despite the lowbrow nature of plastic filaments.These assembled wall reliefs reference the familiar and unfamiliar elements of industrial design, graffiti and tech based art he is interested in.They also allow him to explore

surface textures and infill designs that could not be achieved by conventional methods, and unlike the unstable nature of molten metal Walsh now has more control over form, and texture to specification because of the calibration afforded by this new technology.
Overall, Walsh’s commitment to exploring the potential of new work is evident. He ventures beyond conventional art-making, allowing the process to lead him into unexplored territory. Having collaborated with him over the years as fellow sculptors, it’s been a shared passion not only to produce art through these methodologies but also to advocate for their overall potential. Through this exhibition, Walsh shows us a way forward that reflects his fearless adaptability with emerging tools that are reshaping how we make and consider new art for the future.

-Carlos Mare 2024