Optik Zen is an art collective based out of Portland, Oregon. Currently, it consists of two artists: Kurt “Mouse” Weyland and Michelle Canada.
Mouse is primarily a psychedelic painter and Michelle is primarily a photoshop artist.
With Michelle having strength in the digital art realm and Mouse having prowess over painting and shape making, they strive to combine their powers to create dynamic 2D psychedelic and op art pieces, as well as immersive interactive 3D art for festivals and events!
Kurt “Mouse” Weyland has been painting with intention since 2012. He finds inspiration in psychedelic op artists such as Victor Vasarely, MC Escher and Bridget Riley. He enjoys painting impossible objects, cubes, repeating patterns and fractals. He is known for employing color theory in his painting and has been including metallic and interference paint in his most recent pieces.
Kurt uses the optical illusion of perceptual drift to play with the audiences perspective. He feels that people are often bogged down by the repetiton of mundane daily life. His hope is that they will see the art and have their minds tickled by the impossibility of the shapes and colors they see, and have a moment of unusual zen before continuing on their journey.
In addition to fine art, Kurt has also been a fire spinner and flow artist for 20 years, adept primarily at Devil Stix and Diabolo, but also well-versed in double staves and poi, he can also breathe fire. He really enjoys performing for people at parties and events and gets a kick out of impressing audience members or “melting their faces”.
Michelle Canada is a digital artist from Portland Oregon. She has been designing and continuously learning with Photoshop for 15 years. She also has a strong background in web and graphic design. Her passion for digital design was born from the kitschy, regrettable glittery myspace and livejournal layout customization trend around the turn of the millennium, but it has since grown into an enthusiasm for clean, efficient web design and colorful, geometric digital art pieces.
Michelle finds herself excited by the use of a lot of colors, but doesn’t want it to look tacky, so her challenge as an artist is to implement color in a structured and intentional way so it doesn’t end up looking like a unicorn exploded. She finds herself bored by the use of muted greyscale colors in a lot of the american cityscapes as well as webscapes. Life is short! Live in color!
In addition to photoshop, Michelle is also a fire spinner and flow artist. She specializes in Poi and Double Staves and enjoys hosting workshops and spin jams where people can show up and engage in play. She believes that play is not present enough in our adult lives and can even be lost in the flow arts scene due to elitism. She is a firm advocate of sillyness and play as a tool to bring you back into the present (fun!) moment.