014-Michael Thorpe

Artist


Feature No. 14 | June 24th, 2020

 

What’s your first basketball memory?

My first memory of playing ball are these fragmented images of going to the local YMCA in Florida and hooping for hours. however my most vivid memory I have is actually of watching Kobe drop 81. That really changed me. I rocked eight until I learned you couldn't wear it in organize basketball because refs can’t do the number with one hand lol.

 

What were some highlights of your early AAU career and then playing under Jim O'Brien at Emerson?

The biggest highlight from playing AAU was traveling and seeing the country. Up until then, early high school, I had never seen anything past the radius I grew up in. When I started playing AAU seriously I was seeing parts of the country that I never dreamed of seeing. 

Playing college ball was a dream come true. I didn’t play at the Division I level, however I played for a Division I coach Jim O’Brien. The best part of playing under him was bigger than ball, it was the relationship that was built. He is somebody I can call today and just talk about life shit. But to be honest beating the number one (amherst college) and three (WPI) teams in the country during my college career was awesome. those were the true highlights. 

 

In 2016 the intersection of basketball, hip hop and art did not exist yet. What was it like as a creative at that time?

After my career of playing basketball ended around 2016 I enter the world of photography and being a creative. At that time everything wasn’t mixed up like it is now. I’m talking about art, music, basketball, fashion, and whatever else you want. So coming out of playing basketball at a high-level and entering this new world I was definitely an outsider and it was super interesting being on the outside looking In. I was just trying to fit in or seeing if I did fit in. 

How did you get into quilting? What made you so fascinated with it?

When I started to become a creative I was a photographer and at the time everybody and their mom‘s was a photographer. So I started exploring other art forms. My mother had always quilted as long as I could remember but I didn’t pay any attention to it until she got a big ass quilting machine. Then I started messing around with it and I realized you could literally make anything you wanted out of fabric and thread.

 

You have an incredibly unique style, talk about the underlying inspiration behind each piece.

I really want to be a painter but everybody I know is a painter. So basically I use fabric and thread as my paint. I try and keep it very simple. All my figures are made out of shapes and then I use words. That's pretty much it lol. a series I’m working on is quilting jerseys. They are basically my take on sculptures because when you quilt them and then hang them on the wall they take a shape of their own. 

 

How have you managed to stay creative during these uncertain times? 

I can’t lie it’s been very difficult to process everything going on. I get lost in my work as much as I can. I am extremely fortunate to have a community that nurtures and encourages me to keep creating. I don’t know what I would do without them. But I always have to take time to look at the bigger picture and do nothing to make sure I’m ok physically and mentally.