Pittsburgh Artist Registry

M. Michelle Illuminato

M. Michelle Illuminato

Artistic Category Artist

I collaborate with Emily Blair as part of Next Question, and at times with Phuong Nguyen And Brett Hunter.

Career Level Professional
Experienced With Collaboration, Commissions, Leading workshops, Lectures, Public art, Speaking engagements, Teaching engagements

My work takes the form of events, public-exchanges, artworks and books, to help reveal the complicated and often contradictory relationship between people, their culture and the land they live on. Together with local residents, I explore urban and rural places often using food, mapping, and tourism as focal points. Much of my work begins with research, both traditional as well as non-traditional. For example, I may set up public conversations, interviews or investigations that help to bring to light different view points. The work is a building process that is collaborative by nature and inclusive. Often I work with other artists, particularly with artist Emily Blair in the collective next question.


Over the years I have explored how women and girls experience public space, have asked people from the Finger Lakes to literally get on a soapbox to talk to their neighbors, and have worked with residents of Belgrade to create a new guide to their city. I’ve organized cook-off’s that feature foraged foods, created audio tours of people’s personal landmarks, asked people to use their cellphones to help illustrate a 200 year old book. I’ve explored local collections that shed light on communities and staged public readings. From all of these interactions, I’ve learned that people speak about their lives in ways that are striking, often poetic, and when placed next to the words of their neighbors, provide a new map to understanding a specific people and place.                                                                      


M. Michelle Illuminato creates events, public-exchanges, and artworks that examine the complicated and often contradictory relationship between people, their culture and the land they live on. While her work explores a variety of themes from tourism to labor, each project  invites participation at every stage, from early idea generation to action and response during the exhibition.

Illuminato is recipient of numerous awards and grants including Key to the City of Aliquippa and Best Event in Pennsylvania, and has exhibited nationally and internationally. Last year she was an artist-in-resident at the Internationales Waldkunst Zentrum in Darmstadt, Germanyand the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France as part of a year-long sabbatical from Alfred University, where she is an Associate Professor.

Recent and selected projects include: The Lost & Found Factory, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA, The Neighborhood Revisited, Open Engagement (Pittsburgh), Lenz, Internationale Waldkunstzentrum (Darmstadt, Germany), Explor-art, AreaOdeon (Monza, Italy), Wild Food Cook-Off, MK Gallery (Portland, OR), Double X, Herberger College of the Arts (Tempe, AZ), Stations, CSMA and String Room Galleries (Ithaca, NY), To Let (Ithaca, NY), Guide/Vodic, Kontext Gallery (Belgrade, Serbia), MIX: Musical Swap Meet, The Cube (Belgrade), Junk is Back! Due Settemani (Ballabio, Italy), Paradise Gardens, Vogelfrei 6 (Darmstadt, Germany), Living Statues/Statue Vivante, La Corte Arte Contemporanea (Florence, Italy).

Illuminato works individually as well as with the collective next question.




Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15221
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  • Installation
  • Artist Books


  • Interactive