Michael Van Huffel

Michael Van Huffel

Santa Cruz, CA

I was in a tough state prior to this photography project. It brought an unexpected and deep relationship, and finally feeling productive again. Since I started, I feel much less like I am disappearing and it's given me much hope for a real future."

Michael Van Huffel (he/him/his) enjoyed a successful career as an artist, animator, Creative Director, and musician. His career got a jumpstart when he began working with the musician Prince, as a staff artist, and eventually Art Director. He also has also worked in motion design, TV and movies, and served as Creative Director for numerous projects in advertising and entertainment.

In 2007, Michael unexpectedly developed Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) a devastating and poorly-understood neuroimmune condition. Michael began to face loss after loss. Unable to work and eventually housebound, his career, home, and the life he built were lost due to hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical co-pays. Life became very different and solitary. He relocated to a one-room studio outside San Francisco, and has been taking part in the largest-yet studies on his disease at Stanford. That room became his de-facto art studio.

Michael describes that his life for 8 years turned into an isolated existence, that most relationships had become virtual, except for home infusion nurses and very occasional visitors. The most recent transformation in his art career, and what you see featured on ArtLifting, occurred when he received an iPhone on a family plan, and an artist friend suggested they start a photo-a-day project. Michael describes that “this became a search to find beautiful or interesting things within an apartment that had only been accumulating painful associations using numerous physical and technical limitations as a means to a unique style and meaning. This also unexpectedly led to a relationship, a partner—something that had long seemed a lost part of life.” 

In this past few years, his life has welcomed big changes and transitions. He got married and relocated to Santa Cruz. Michael can occasionally get outside for short walks and is now close to a lot of natural beauty. Nearly all of the photos use things he collects while outdoors. He then brings the objects, whatever they may be, back to photograph when he is feeling well enough. The photos are often expressionistic—an attempt to make things look like something other than what they are—such as paintings, sea creatures, or landscapes. He aims to convey emotions and feelings and for viewers to see and find interesting corners of his world. 

To learn more about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), please visit the Open Medicine Foundation and follow the groundbreaking study mentioned in Michael’s bio. In addition, see the multiple award-winning documentary, Unrest, created by a woman living with the disease. 

 
A Purple Ghost - ArtLifting
 
Acceleration - ArtLifting
 
Actual Antiquity - ArtLifting
 
All The Lights - ArtLifting
 
Almost Amber - ArtLifting
 
Anglehead - ArtLifting
 
Antimatter - ArtLifting
 
Architecture - ArtLifting
 
Arcs - ArtLifting
 
Ariel - ArtLifting
 
Astro Pop - ArtLifting
 
Aurora - ArtLifting
 
Balancing Act - ArtLifting
 
Beauty Mark - ArtLifting
 
Bifrost - ArtLifting
 
Big Bang Boom - ArtLifting
 
Black Forest - ArtLifting
 
Blue Genie - ArtLifting
 
Blue, 2 AM - ArtLifting
 
Blush - ArtLifting
 
Breaking Glass - ArtLifting
 
Bridge - ArtLifting
 
Bright Tahoe - ArtLifting
 
Brink - ArtLifting
 
Burst - ArtLifting
 
Burst - ArtLifting
 
Butterflies Hideout - ArtLifting
 
By the Light of the Silvery Moon - ArtLifting
 
By Wham-O - ArtLifting
 
Canopy - ArtLifting
 
Cascade - ArtLifting
 
Cathedral - ArtLifting
 
Champagne Lipstick - ArtLifting
 
Chemistry (See Figure One) - ArtLifting
 
Cherry Cola - ArtLifting
 
Clara - ArtLifting
 
Cleopatra (Was Actually Greek) - ArtLifting
 
Copper and Silver - ArtLifting
 
Cosmic Jellies - ArtLifting
 
Crepe - ArtLifting
 
Currents and Fields - ArtLifting
 
Dacite - ArtLifting
 
Deimos - ArtLifting
 
Diptych - ArtLifting
 
Don't Play in Traffic - ArtLifting
 
Drifting - ArtLifting
 
Drukpa K - ArtLifting
 
Earth - ArtLifting
 
East - ArtLifting
 
Einstein's Hairdo - ArtLifting
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