Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky is an award-winning artist whose work includes murals, drawing, illustrations, sculpture, and photography. But for the past thirty-nine years, she has carved herself a reputation as a master of the early American art form of scrimshaw.
Mike graduated with a degree in art, with an emphasis on sculpture, from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri. She saw scrimshaw as the perfect medium to combine her love of art and history. She did additional graduate study in various media and even horticulture to enrich to her work, giving it a distinct, precise style.
Recognized as an environmentally conscious artist, Mike uses recycled antique piano keys, cow bone, deer antlers, fossilized mastodon ivory, and manmade polymers with the look and feel of ivory. Like the sailors in the late 1700s and early 1800s who devised the art, she uses no patterns, stencils, transfers, or power tools to create traditional nautical themes as well as wildlife and botanical designs.
Mike’s art has been commissioned by collectors worldwide, displayed in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the White House Visitor Center, the Missouri State Capitol, and the Missouri Governor’s Mansion. This year marks her 22nd appearance in the Directory of Traditional American Crafts.
When she<’>s not at work in her tiny Stone Hollow Studio deep in the Missouri woods, she writes a monthly column promoting the arts for a St. Louis-area magazine. She also encourages young artists through her active participation in the Partners in Education and American Graduate programs.
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