Michael Torlen is a painter, Associate Professor of Visual Art and a founding member of the faculty in the School of Art+Design at Purchase College, SUNY, Purchase, New York where he teaches painting and drawing. He earned his BFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art and his MFA at Ohio State University.
Mr. Torlen was born in San Diego, California into a Norwegian commercial fishing family. His series, Songs for My Father, is a body of over 1,000 landscape works inspired by his interest in the Maine coast, the sea, National Parks and the northern romantic tradition. His most recent work, Sanger Fra Mor (Songs From Mother) is an ongoing visual essay using commercial fishing, oral history and autobiographic images to explore identity, maritime history and the persistence of memory. He draws upon his experiences both as a young boy aboard ship with his father and as a crew member on a commercial tuna purse seine vessel. Further inspiration for his work is gained from trips to Monhegan Island, Maine where he paints in the open air and researches the historical maritime resources of the Monhegan Museum.
Mr. Torlen has been an artist-in-residence at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and at Weir Farm, Wilton, Connecticut. His work is in the collection of the Neuberger Museum of Art, The Newark Museum, Housatonic Museum of Art , Springfield Art Museum, and in many corporate collections. He is a member of Watercolor USA Honor Society.
An article about the artist and his work appears in the July 2021 issue of Maine Boats and Harbors: https://maineboats.com/print/issue-171/michael-torlen