Michael Banks was born in 1972 and was raised by his mother in a housing project in north Alabama. He graduated from high school and was a star athlete. As a child Michael loved to draw and paint and create from whatever materials he could find. His mother encouraged him and he continued to create until November 1992, when his mother died. In his grief, Michael’s desire for making art left him. He fell into a great depression and stopped painting.
For five years Michael’s life took many different turns during his struggle with depression and alcohol addiction. Finally, in 1997, he recalled the hope and encouragement that his mother had given him and he began to paint again. Since then he has experimented with various techniques combining both found objects, building materials as well as artists’ materials. He developed a style using roofing tar as an undercoating on wood with artist’s paint incising subtle nuances.
While painting Michael is totally absorbed in his work, reacting without deep thought or planning. Painting, for him, is almost an automatic process. When questioned about what he means by a certain part of a painting, he often responds, “It surprises me what I have painted when I have finished. I was just in my groove and this is what came out. Wow.”
Michael has won many honors with his work which has been exhibited in New York, Denver, and Atlanta. The Hurn Museum in Savannah, Georgia presented a One-Man exhibition of his work in 2005 and has a number of his works in their permanent collection. Articles have appeared in Southern Living magazine (August 2006) and Better Homes and Gardens (August 2006) which featured him and his work. A review of his Hurn exhibition in the Savannah Morning News stated: “Ultimately, ‘Michael Banks: Outsider Artist’ offers Savannah’s most rewarding and penetrating solo show in recent memory. As this unforgettable exhibit clearly indicates, Banks is one outsider artist who has certainly earned the right to be on the inside.”