A Madison artist who creates complex and vividly colored paper sculptures has been selected to represent Dane County in a European event that attracts a global audience.
Michael Velliquette, 40, will spend two weeks in July as part of an elite convention of artists known as EUARCA. The gathering takes place during dOCUMENTA, one of the largest contemporary art festivals in the world, held every five years in Dane County's sister county of Landkreis Kassel, Germany.
Last fall, Kassel invited Dane County to select a working artist to be the sole American in EUARCA. Twenty artists applied, and eight finalists were interviewed by the executive council of the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, said commission vice chairwoman Jennifer Post Tyler.
The applicants were "an amazing parade of artists," Post Tyler said.
Velliquette rose to the top for his "clear, defined vision for the kind of work he would do at EUARCA, how he would engage people there and what he would do to bring the work back to Dane County," she said.
While at EUARCA, Velliquette plans to create a 12-by-5-foot, three-dimensional sculpture titled "The Power Structure," along the 2012 EUARCA theme of "power and responsibility." He hopes to build a similar piece upon his return to Madison. "I like the idea of there being these two 'antennae' on both sides of the globe that are connected in some way," he said.
Velliquette, who teaches part-time at UW-Madison and Madison Area Technical College, grew up in Florida, came to Madison "on a whim" in 1997 and stayed to earn an master's of fine arts degree from UW-Madison. He lived in San Antonio before moving back to Madison in 2007 to join his partner, organic chemistry professor Tehshik Yoon.
The dynamic use of color in his work, displayed at www.velliquette.com, "tends to give people some visual excitement — and in some cases joy — so I like that aspect of it," he said.
Along with $1,000 from Dane County for travel expenses, Velliquette will receive a scholarship of 1,000 euros, studio set-up and a two-week stay with a local family provided by his German hosts.