Last week, I got a chance to catch up with one of my favorite artists, Michelle E. Fusco (aka Libertina Grimm). She has a unique talent for creating enchanting visions of enigmatic musicians. Her subjects in the past have included Alice Cooper, King Diamond, Jim Morrison and Dani Filth. She manages to capture the magniloquent beauty of these artists in a way that is both memorable and uncanny. Recently, she has turned her attention towards rendering the image of Michael Jackson in a respectful and deeply loving manner.
What was the moment you discovered you had artistic talent like for you?
I was about 11 or 12 & mostly I remember being happy to have made my father proud of something I did, because he was very hard to please.
Why do you choose to create art?
Once I discovered I could do it, it became my strongest mode of self-expression, and a very effective escape from troubles, stress and reality.
What artist or artists do you feel the deepest connection to?
I feel the deepest connection(s) to Mozart, Michelangelo, Rene Magritte, Michael Jackson, and Stephen King.
You have created art based on many well-known musicians over the years. What makes you settle on a certain subject to work on?
I am only truly inspired by performers that are “outside the box” and seem to have something speaking through them. Like they’re mad to create or something… I’ve explored music in search of these true artists, to whom creating their music is truly an extension of themselves and their lives. Once I find someone who seems to be REAL in that fashion, I feel I must portray them in some paintings, as if somehow to express my appreciation for their efforts in being real artists.
What about Michael Jackson, your current subject, do you most connect to?
My first thought on this one was ‘what DON’T I connect to?’ . I had a difficult childhood and this leaves one feeling like it was stolen away. I identify with Michael’s eternal child-like qualities and attempts to create his own dream world around himself, and stubbornly (needed to) live there, despite the ‘real’ world’s repeated attempts to tear it down. He had to live in his own reality because no one really understood him. I definitely connect to that. The feeling of isolation, creativity needing to be shared with the world, but yet no one truly understanding it.
Have you ever felt as if you created something that was perfect?
I have never created something perfect. I sometimes have thought I was working on a perfect drawing or painting, or at least one I would be satisfied with, but invariably, somewhere along the way, I end up feeling like I let myself down yet again, didn’t do as well as I had hoped to, & must set my sights on the next project, because apparently the next one is always the best one.
What is beauty?
To me it is some sort of otherworldly aura or essence that is shocking in it’s perfection, whether it’s Dani Filth as a flawless Gothic vampire, or Michael aspiring to the heavens, the wish to create something with a perfect effect is there and is beautiful. Like Michelangelo’s “David”. Perfection of form and grace, but also with a deeper meaning.
What environment are you most comfortable creating in?
I always work at the same old work-desk with a great stereo so I can hear my subjects. I always must create a music program to accompany each project, to create an appropriate ambience/atmosphere. I’ve been doing that since childhood and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t draw anything without the accompanying soundtrack.
If you could no longer create art, what would you do?
If things were as they are now and I could no longer create art, I would die. But if I could have any career as a replacement, like if I had a genie or something? Then I would be a dancer.
What about raising chickens appeals to you?
Chickens are great! They’re funny and sweet, and generally misunderstood. Probably my favorite thing about them is that if you raised them from babies, they’re your friends for life. I have full grown hens that still insist I’m their mother. They bond for life if treated right, which of course makes them excellent pets! I also like to rescue them from bad situations with people who don’t understand and give them proper shelter. It can be very rewarding. One of my older hens, Ivy, was left without food when her owners moved and couldn’t take chickens to their new place. They just abandoned her. I found her wandering in the road. I took her home and now she’s one of the family. Chickens need more people who understand that they are intelligent, compassionate creatures worthy of respect and love.