5 Questions with… Artist Michael Klauke

Now through September 8 at CAM, you can view local artist Michael Klauke’s exhibition In So Many Words. His works—which use words and letters to create visuals—are on display in CAM’s Independent Weekly Gallery. Klauke has worked at the NC Museum of Art for 32 years now (he’s now the associate registrar), and has received an individual artist fellowship from the NC Arts Council twice. Read on to hear about Klauke’s work at CAM and beyond. 
As told to Catherine Currin

Detail, Inconsistent Revelations, 2016 Ink and pencil on paper, 21 ¼ x 17 5/8 in.; Image courtesy of the artist

How’d you get to Raleigh?

I was born in the Midwest and grew up in Florida. I originally came to North Carolina in the 1980s to attend UNC-Chapel Hill. After graduation, I secured a job at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh and have been here ever since.  

Michael Klauke


Can you tell me a little bit about your exhibition at CAM?

The exhibition features about 18 months of new work, with a small group of older works included for a bit of context. I was offered the show in February of 2018, in keeping with a standard museum practice of initiating programming well in advance. One of the conditions of doing the show was agreeing to do a new video piece and at least two wall-sized installation works. Both of those are outside of my normal method of working, but it was actually inspiring to have the opportunity to work outside my comfort zone. The exhibition contains 1 video, 3 wall-sized works, 9 paintings, and 10 drawings.


Inconsistent Revelations, 2016
Image courtesy of the artist

Where will In So Many Words go when it leaves CAM?

Sadly, it doesn’t go anywhere except back to my studio. The exhibition is a one-time thing, so after it’s over a majority of the works go back into storage to await their next opportunity to be seen.

What’s it like being an artist in this community?

I would say that, like most things, it depends on what you put into it. There are a number of enclaves of artists/studios around, and there are a fair amount of venues to exhibit artwork. In all honesty I tend to be rather reclusive and work in a very solitary kind of environment, but that is by choice and not necessity. If you want to feel a part of a larger community, there are a lot of institutions like CAM that help foster that sense of belonging.

Detail shot, The Journey of a Thousand Miles (Portrait of Malcolm X), 2018 Ink and pencil on paper, 25 7/8 x 19 in.; Image courtesy of the artist

Are you working on any new works right now? What medium do you most enjoy working with?

Being an artist, in its ideal sense, should be an ongoing “lifestyle,” for lack of a better word. It’s true that having an exhibition or some kind of looming deadline does make one more productive, but like most artists, I’m always making something.

I am working on a couple of new things at the moment, one being a book I’m having published in the fall. Besides doing word-based visual art, I have done a lot of experimental or conceptual writing in the last 20 years, and a small New York publisher (Counselor Books) wants to publish my experimental translation of Homer’s Iliad.

The medium I most like working is in probably drawing, but painting is a very close second, so it’s nice to be able to switch back and forth, depending on what kind of mood I’m in.


For more information on the show, click here.