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Resounds: Michael Haykin and Michael Jorgenson

Anna Paige
Michael Haykin (left) and Michael Jorgensen are partners who have been married nearly three decades. Jorgensen designed the catalog and the graphic treatment for the exhibition as well as the installation plan for Haykin’s exhibition, Painting a Pandemic, at the Yellowstone Art Museum

Michael Haykin’s exhibition, Painting a Pandemic, takes the viewer on a visual journey into cultural behaviors, world and national events, personal experience, and the powerful effect of the COVID pandemic to magnify and dissect a changing new world.

A Montana based painter known primarily for his large multi panel paintings of nature and of natural phenomena, Haykin introduces an extraordinary new body of work in this exhibition currently showing at the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings.

Anna Paige
Michael Haykin’s self-portrait is on display as part of the exhibition, Painting a Pandemic, at the Yellowstone Art Museum until Oct. 2. The paintings were composed over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael worked with author Jessica Argyle, who offered feedback and critique to him as he painted the works (via social media during the pandemic) and wrote flash fiction inspired by the work that is included in the gallery

In March 2020, the artist was at work in his Boulder, Montana studio producing paintings which explore time in its various increments; seasons, minutes, and seconds, when the COVID pandemic rapidly emerged. After his first time wearing a mask for safety in public, and feeling awkward and self-conscious, he returned to his studio to make a painting about his experience. This first painting led to a two-year long exploration of the pandemic’s new world order. The mask image morphs and is replaced by images of natural elements such as wings, bees, birds, and butterflies, as the artist explores world and current events framed by the pandemic.

In Painting a Pandemic, the paintings are large, often monumental in scale. Figures in the paintings appear frozen in space, many with vacant, detached gazes, while the colors around them are bold, and even artificially vibrant. The color red plays an important signifier in many of these painting.

While creating these works of art, Haykin shared images with Jessica Argyle, a Florida-based author. Responding from nearly 3,000 miles away, Argyle’s perspective on the paintings led to a deeply meaningful cooperative experience during a time of frequent isolation. Her poetry and flash fiction inspired by the artworks will be incorporated into the exhibition experience.

Painting A Pandemic explores collective and individual experiences of a global pandemic while celebrating creative collaborations across time and distance.

Michael Haykin’s partner is Michael Jorgensen, a creative director that has worked around the world for some of the leading brands in the fashion and cosmetic industry. Jorgensen’s reaction to the pandemic was completely different from Haykin’s, and he tells us about his response to surviving the trying times.

Corby Skinner is an independent marketing professional with an enormous capacity for assessing issues and creating positive, effective messages.
Anna Paige is a Montana-based journalist, poet and educator. She is originally from Wyoming and has lived in Billings for more than a decade, where she co-founded Young Poets, winner of the 2021 Library of Congress Award for Literacy.