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
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4