Michael Torlen is a painter, printmaker, writer and Professor Emeritus of the School of Art+Design at Purchase College, State University of New York, Purchase, New York where he taught painting and drawing. He earned his BFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art and his MFA at Ohio State University. He is currently writing a book on perception and studio practice.
Mr. Torlen was born in San Diego, California into a Norwegian commercial fishing family. His series, Songs for My Father, is a body of over 1,000 landscape works inspired by his interest in the Maine coast, the sea, National Parks and the northern romantic tradition. His most recent work, Sanger Fra Mor (Songs From Mother) is an ongoing visual essay using commercial fishing, oral history and autobiographic images to explore identity, maritime history and the persistence of memory. He draws upon his experiences both as a young boy aboard ship with his father and as a crewmember on a commercial tuna purse seine vessel. Further inspiration for his work is gained from trips to Monhegan Island, Maine where he paints in the open air and researches the historical maritime resources of the Monhegan Museum.
Mr. Torlen has been an artist-in-residence at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and at Weir Farm, Wilton, Connecticut. His work is in the collection of the Neuberger Museum of Art, The Newark Museum, Housatonic Museum of Art , Springfield Art Museum, and the Stetson University Museum and in many corporate and private collections. He has exhibited in New York with Luise Ross Gallery and Alexander Miliken in NYC, and with Madelyn Jordon Fine Art in Scarsdale and Miranda Art Projects Space in Port Chester. In Maine he has shown work at Jonathan Frost Gallery, Caldbeck Gallery, Bayview Gallery, among others, and at Lupine Gallery on Monhegan Island. His work appears in David Little and Carl Little’s book Art of Acadia and in Carl Little’s Paintings of Maine.
Mr. Torlen’s article, “EYEWITNESS: Reflections on Richard Artschwager’s Untitled, 1971,” appeared in the December 2012-January 2013 on line edition of the Brooklyn Rail. Torlen’s article “Hit with a Brick:The teachings of Hoyt L. Sherman” recently appeared in Visual Inquiry Volume 2 Issue 3. The article discusses the innovative pedagogy of Torlen’s mentor, Hoyt Sherman at The Ohio State University. Michael Torlen is a member of Watercolor USA Honor Society.
Mr. Torlen moved to Maine in August of 2015 and has relocated his studio to Westbrook. His current gallery affiliations in Maine are with Johnathan Frost Gallery, Rockland and Lupine Gallery, Monhegan Island.