Michael Malizia: Elevating Mixed Media to Sentimental Heights

04/05/2016 04:51 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

As you take a step into your cluttered attic, feeling the stress of Spring cleaning crawling into your brain, think of Michael Malizia. When you sit down to sort out your memorabilia, placing them into two piles labeled KEEP and THROW AWAY, think of Michael Malizia. The day that you realize your refrigerator has become a shrine of your children's drawings, the day that you call yourself a hoarder, the day that you consider moving because you have no place to store your keepsakes, turn to Michael Malizia. Artist, innovator and pragmatic recycler, Michael Malizia, will turn your beloved artifacts into museum worthy artwork.

Based out of Hoboken, New Jersey, Malizia has taken his artistic spirit and experience as a father, and combined the two, forming "My Life Studio" and an impressive start to his career as an artist. A few years back, Malizia, who was then working in Finance, turned down an opportunity with his partner to grow his business into a giant.

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"I rarely used my imagination and I never felt fulfilled as an individual," Malizia explains. "My wife, Erin, was pregnant with our second daughter and every time I would leave for work or to go to London where our second office was, Charlie, my first daughter, would cry. My priorities were backwards. I knew I should have been taking my creativity seriously and more importantly, spending time with my family."

After making the revolutionary decision to leave Finance and pick up a paintbrush, Malizia rented an art studio two blocks from his home and began working, turning a hobby he always thought of as unprofitable into a career. The doors of his studio stayed open to his daughters, family and friends, happily taking in the inspiration they unknowingly offered. Malizia equipped his studio with art mediums of all types, books, toys, even a trampoline, to keep his children occupied. When his daughter took an interest in "making art like dad's", Malizia's innovative side came into play.

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"My technique began to shift when I started creating alongside Charlie. I wanted to make a finished piece, incorporating her paintings since I knew she wanted to be a part of my art. Since my wife saves everything, I began to make more pieces like this collaboration, adding significant keepsakes into works of art. First illustrations, letters, airline tickets, we had everything in boxes stored in our second shower. Like most parents, we adore everything our daughters do, but now we have a new use for our keepsakes, something with a different type of value. The word spread to our family and friends, and then to strangers, who began asking for commissions using their own memorabilia. My wife and I decided to turn it into a business. We named it 'My Life Studio'."

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Using an encaustic technique (melting and layering wax), some oils or watercolors and whatever artifacts are brought to him, Malizia collaborates with the members of the family to make a piece that they are fond of both aesthetically and emotionally. The productions of this collaboration are beautiful abstract pieces or portraits that represent generations of significance, moments and years of growth. The use of encaustic technique and artifacts, which could range from clothing to food to birth certificates, begin to require a sculptural process. The material of the pieces build upon each other, creating a vibrant, often 3D work of art. My Life Studio and the impact of fatherhood have not only brought Malizia success in the world of 'art as business', but have also impacted his personal artistic style in a major way. The heavy use of repurposed material serves as his own creative tool which harnesses personal importance. While experimenting with different methods to fully capture sentimental value and create visually pleasing works, Malizia took to the method of mixed media, and created his own niche.

"It's clear that my kids are my driving force. I remember taking a pottery class with my 7 year old and the teacher told me to 'Watch what she does' as I struggled with the clay. She was free and lacked inhibition. It was inspiring. I have become cognizant of the beauty of life and new emotions that come with experience. My style developed because of them. It is an intimate process and although it's become lucrative, I make the pieces affordable so they could be available to a wide range of people. My goal with My Life Studio and as an artist is to create works that look incredible hanging on your wall, but require a closer look in order notice that there is way more to it."

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As for upcoming events, from April 7th through May 15th, Malizia will be having a solo show titled Faces: A Retelling at Tresorie Gallery in New Jersey. This exhibition will not only show and introduce pieces from My Life Studio, but will display portraiture symbolic of his commission work in regard to the use of significant artifacts. He is also part of two upcoming group shows in April at Proto Gallery and Roig Gallery in Hoboken.

To check out more of Michael Malizia's work or to get a commissioned piece of your own, visit http://www.mylifestudioart.com/

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All photos courtesy of Michael Malizia