Michael Massenburg was born in San Diego, raised in South Central Los Angeles, and lives in Inglewood. Michael pursued his studies at California State University Long Beach and the Otis School of Art and Design. He began his career at the Watts Towers Arts Center, influenced by the artists out of the Watts Rebellion and the Los Angeles Uprising. Massenburg's interest in historical, cultural, and personal narratives developed his social practice through art making, teaching, lectures, community organizing, and activism for various organizations and causes.

Michael has exhibited in galleries, universities, and museums and completed commissions and public art projects throughout the United States and abroad. One of his recent exhibitions was for the Dak'Art Biennial of Contemporary African Art in Dakar, Senegal. Some of his public art commissions included Metro, DCA, and the Kia Forum in Inglewood. Michael received various grants and awards, including the Art Matters Foundation, California Arts Council, and DCA Individual Master Artist COLA Grantee.

Artist Statement

The Watts Towers influenced my early art beginnings. With a mission to make art that builds community, my principal pursuits have been creating informed art, educating, and practicing civic and cultural advocacy to improve access to skills throughout Los Angeles and abroad. That sense of social purpose has propelled my practice as a contemporary artist. My course explores narratives about past histories, present times, and future possibilities. In my work, I incorporate text, maps, and landscapes, using both figurative and abstract elements in my concepts. The medium I use ranges from traditional paintings to murals to concrete seating and ground marking—mosaics and tiles embedded in the work of numerous of my art in public spaces.

My current series explores the African diaspora experience in the Americas of the Middle Passage from 1619 to now. The journey is about survival and salvation to empowerment. How rituals, cultural, and spiritual practices transferred and evolved into our current times. My travels to Senegal, Haiti, Colombia, and other countries inspire me. My process in some of these works consists of drawings, writings, paintings, collages, and found objects, gathering materials, observing, and listening to their influence, history, and daily practice. 

Using Format