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. 

Natural Bridges 3 PM - ArtLifting
Nefertiti - ArtLifting
Neon Rally - ArtLifting
Neon-like - ArtLifting
Nerve - ArtLifting
Network - ArtLifting
Night Light - ArtLifting
Nomads - ArtLifting
Not Done Being Beautiful - ArtLifting
Oasis - ArtLifting
Oregon with Ricky - ArtLifting
Parasol - ArtLifting
Picnic - ArtLifting
Plum Blossom - ArtLifting
Poseidon's Dream - ArtLifting
Potion - ArtLifting
Precipice - ArtLifting
Rabbit Ears - ArtLifting
Rapids - ArtLifting
Reaching - ArtLifting
Reaching Up in the Dark - ArtLifting
Red Vines - ArtLifting
Rising - ArtLifting
Satellite 1 - ArtLifting
Satellite 2 - ArtLifting
Satellite 3 - ArtLifting
Savanna - ArtLifting
Scarab - ArtLifting
Set - ArtLifting
She, So Beloved - ArtLifting
Shinjuku Station - ArtLifting
Sno Cone - ArtLifting
Soft and Spiky - ArtLifting
Soft White - ArtLifting
Soos - ArtLifting
Space, Water, Ice, Signed - ArtLifting
Summer Air - ArtLifting
Sunburst - ArtLifting
Sundown Stage Left - ArtLifting
Sunspots - ArtLifting
Supernova - ArtLifting
Surge - ArtLifting
Suspension - ArtLifting
Sympathetic Vibrations - ArtLifting
Sympathetic Vibrations 2 - ArtLifting
Tangerine Superhighway - ArtLifting
Temple - ArtLifting
Tethered - ArtLifting
The Blue Deep - ArtLifting
The Cartographer's Dream - ArtLifting
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