Michael Gaines is a visual artist currently living in Greenville, North Carolina where he is a first year MFA candidate in Photography at East Carolina University. Born and raised in Manassas, Virginia, Gaines was exposed to history, art, and architecture from an early age, all of which continue to inform and influence his work today. In 2004 he moved to Philadelphia, and it was here that his interest in photography was nurtured and flourished. After moving to North Carolina in 2016, he decided to go back to school in pursuit of a degree in photography, which has since expanded to include interests in alternative photographic processes, ceramics, and bookmaking. He received two Associates degrees from Central Piedmont Community College in December 2018, and graduated Suma Cum Laude from Appalachian State University with a BFA in Studio Art in May 2021.
Gaines' current body of work is centered around toxic masculinity and its effects on the queer identity; isolation and confinement in the time of Covid; and the fears surrounding being left behind and forgotten, ageing, and dying alone. As well as being an artist, Gaines is an avid historian and has been researching the life of a beer brewer and the history of his summer home for nearly 30 years. He has written two books, spoken at several symposiums, and curated a museum exhibit in his hometown on the subject.
Since going back to school, Gaines' artistic influences have grown considerably to include not only past and present professors, but obscure and famous artists alike. This list includes, but is by no means limited to: