Artist Michael israel
uses paint, not words,
to illustrate his point.
BY TIM HYLAND
ADMA N ?
Ask Michael Israel
to describe what he
does—what he is—
and he’ll give an honest answer: He has
“I haven’t found
an actual description for what I do,”
Israel says. “I guess I like to think of
myself as an actuator. That’s a big word
for people to swallow, though, so I’ll
say this: It’s not how high I jump, it’s
how high the audience jumps.”
Confused? You’re not alone.
Though it might be tempting to sim-
ply call Israel a painter—his medium of
choice, after all, is paint—that descrip-
tion works only to a point. Besides,
Israel is not exactly the type to sit in a
studio and toil away in seclusion. No,
when Israel paints, he paints in public.
Accompanied by blaring music.
He doesn’t so much apply the paint
to the canvas as throw it. All the while,
he’s jumping around, in his own words,
“like a madman.” Somehow, though,
a masterpiece is created. And by the
time Israel is done, his audiences—even
those that might not have known what
they were getting into—seem genuinely
touched by what they’ve seen.
“It’s an interesting position I find
myself in—trying to communicate with
an audience, whether they’re businessmen or a charity or whether I’m trying
to empower people or just help them
move forward with their life, in general,” Israel explains. “I think that’s the
goal of most speakers.”
Speaking Through Art
Yes, that’s right. Israel, a painter, considers himself a speaker.
He realizes he doesn’t quite fit the
traditional speaker stereotype. But he’s
also quick to point out that he and other
professional speakers do share a common goal: They aim to communicate.
The only difference is that Israel uses
paint and performance, rather than the
spoken word, to deliver his messages.