Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Boggess-Nunley.
Hi Michelle, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
Art has always had a strong influence in my life. Through corporate jobs, intermittent creative breaks, highs, and lows, I’ve been fortunate to always find my way back to art. There’s this unspoken camaraderie among local artists in the Metro-Detroit area that you can feel at art spaces and events. I’m really lucky to be part of such an accepting community of creatives, and there’s no doubt that support system has helped shape the path and decision to embrace becoming a full-time artist.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a number of galleries and participated in national and international exhibitions. Something I hear often is that there’s no ‘singular body of work in my portfolio, which is often something a gallery or collector seeks when considering an artist. Instead, you’ll find an avid puzzle enthusiast with a short attention span that illustrates mazes and children’s books, sometimes paints portraits, murals, builds stuff, and a slew of canvas paintings done in every painting medium and some none-mediums under the sun. I like to curate shows, play nerdy board games and just kind of go down whatever creative path seems like a good idea at the time.
The freedom to follow ideas and create without boundaries fuels my artwork and the passion behind each piece.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Learning to embrace the ebb and flow of creating and pushing away the limitations has been the single most important lesson I’ve taken from the journey. A journey that continues on a little further every day. Not everyone is going to like what I’m doing, and that’s ok.
Something I like to share with my students and other artists is to “plant your quirks. Water them. Let them grow into big, beautiful, weird-looking gardens for the world to see.”
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
The best way to describe what I do, at least at this moment, is a professional maze maker and illustrator. I’m the current Guinness World Record holder for the World’s Largest Hand Drawn Maze, which was done during the pandemic to benefit a local youth art program left underfunded during shutdown. The giant maze took me about 3.5 months to create and wraps around the circumference of a football field. It features over 300 names and illustrations within the path, in which supporters requested after making a donation to the cause.
Sometimes people will commission me to create mazes for their magazines, projects or books. I’ve created a maze for Atlas Obscura’s new puzzle page, The Guardian’s summer puzzle supplement and have a maze featured in AJ Jacobs’s book, The Puzzler. I’ve also worked with LA-based comedian Zach Sherwin designing a maze for his touring comedy show, The Crossword Show. It’s a lot of fun meeting and working with so many other puzzle enthusiasts.
Another one of my favorite ongoing projects is the Art Collab Project, an annual art show that blindly pairs artist teams together working in different mediums with the goal to build more creative connections within the local art community. It’s a fun way to get artists out of their comfort zones and to try different things. 2023 will mark the 3rd year of the event and it’s open to all SE Michigan artists over the age of 18 working in any medium. This year’s Art Collab was held at the Padzjeski Gallery in Dearborn, and the book is available on Amazon. Proceeds go towards next year’s event to help keep registration free for artists and provide resources.
Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc.?
Yes! If you’re looking to get lost down a wormhole discovering obscure places and things around the world, Atlas Obscura is loaded with endless and wonderfully bizarre content from travel to puzzles. They also have a great app in which users can discover and report Atlas Wonders in their own neighborhoods via a virtual map. Each wonder shows up as a little pin with a little backstory, making it easy to decide which you want to visit. Every time I go somewhere new, the first thing I do is check the app to see what unusual things can be discovered.
My top book choices this year are AJ Jacob’s new release, The Puzzler and Sean Jackson’s Star Wars Mazes.
- Website: www.boggessart.com
- Instagram: @boggessart
- Facebook: @boggessart
- Youtube: @boggessart
- Other: https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/largest-hand-drawn-maze