Graduate student uses friends, pets in art exhibit

Now on display in the Ford Gallery, located in Ford Hall, is the graduate thesis exhibit of Eastern Michigan University student, Justin Marshall.

As a part the Master of Fine Arts program at EMU, Marshall is showcasing the artwork made during his time in the MFA program at EMU.

In his artwork, Marshall displays his friends and their pets as the versions they wanted to be in their painted portraits. Marshall wanted to present honest representation.

“By applying representational abstraction, I create intimate portraits of friends in spaces familiar to them,” Marshall said in his artist statement.

His friends are portrayed in their natural habitats either alone or with their pets in places like their homes or a bar. Marshall alters the paintings with embellishment and skewed perspectives. The portraits are named from the real names of his friends and their pets in the painting.

"In this body of work, I am also exploring the materiality of paint in all of its different forms. Often paint skins are used to make a subject appear to match my interpretation of their personality," Marshall said.

Using paint in various forms and with different mediums, for this exhibit Marshall has chosen to use oil paint for the initial painting and has added acrylic paint skins to the portraits.

“The paint skins are created by mixing acrylic paint on a piece of glass, letting it dry, then peeling it off of the glass and collaging it over the oil painting on the canvas,” he said.

Marshall hopes that the people who look at his work will enjoy it. He believes art should be fun.

“Whatever the viewers experience is with art in the past, I hope that they can get something out of it,” Marshall said.

On Nov. 28 from 8 p.m.-12 a.m., Marshall will be participating in a Draw-a-Thon at the Trinosophes with 22 other local Detroit artists. All of the works will be $25 and the proceeds will go to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

Marshall received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wayne State University. A resident of Detroit and Hamtramck for ten years, he plans on making more work in Detroit after he graduates from EMU.

Find more of his projects on his website at

Marshall’s MFA Exhibit will be on display until Friday and the hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

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