AOM: Michée Mande

Junior Michée Mande often draws at the Brookline Teen Center, where much of his artwork hangs currently. Photo by Jacob Spiegel
Junior Michée Mande often draws at the Brookline Teen Center, where much of his artwork hangs currently. Photo by Jacob Spiegel

On an average weekday afternoon, junior Michée Mande can be found sitting in a quiet area of the Brookline Teen Center, drawing and watching other young artists on Youtube and Instagram. According to Mande, his inspiration comes from watching other talented people on the internet. Once he sees a technique or style that is new to him, he incorporates that into his own art.

“I tend to look at better drawings than my own,” Mande said. “There are a lot of great artists on Instagram, and if I look at their drawing I’m like, ‘oh my goodness,’ and a certain little thing they did inspired me to do my own drawing.”

Mande does not use physical references when he draws portraits. He said he pieces together images from his imagination.

“Basically the way I draw a portrait is I imagine how an eye looks, and then I imagine the different kinds of eyes you can draw,” he said. “And then I imagine a nose, and then I imagine the different kinds of noses you can make, and a mouth and all the mouths you can draw. And I basically just go random mode and put things together and see how it looks.”

Mande’s friend, senior Tate Mitchell, said that his drawings usually come very easily to him.

“He seems like he’s just naturally able to do this kind of thing, and it’s not like he has to put too much effort into it,” Mitchell said. “It just comes naturally through exploring how other people do things.”

Mitchell said while Mande has maintained his core style over the past few years, he has evolved as an artist to include more color in his work. She said she thinks that perhaps Mande felt limited by the graphite and wanted to explore a whole other world and dimension with color.

“I don’t really think the actual subject of his art has changed that much since he’s into portraiture, objective stuff,” Mitchell said. “But he recently switched over in the past year to using prismacolor and colored pencils instead of black and white graphite. And I think that’s him opening up more and exploring more what he wants to do. His art has changed through expression in color.”

In certain pieces, Mande said he incorporates meaning for the viewer to interpret. His favorite piece, a portrait of a woman whom he calls “Petra,” is one where he thought hard about the statement he was trying to convey, he said.

“Petra is by no means Middle Eastern,” Mande said. “She doesn’t look Middle Eastern, but I put the hijab on her to show that here, women don’t have those expectations, but there they do. I wanted to play with an American woman wearing a hijab, and it’s actually my favorite thing that I’ve ever done. That’s the most symbolic I’ve ever been.”

Ben Batchelder, another artist in Mande’s class, said he believes that Mande has improved during the time that he has known him, and continues to make his work more and more realistic.

“I like the direction he’s going in. It seems that he’s gone closer and close to photorealism,” Batchelder said.

Some of Mande’s works are currently on display at the Teen Center. Mitchell said he has always been modest about his work, however.

“He tends to not think of himself as amazing as he actually is,” Mitchell said. “He’s just very humble about it.”

Mande said that drawing is nothing more than a hobby which he especially likes do, and that he does not plan to pursue art as a career. In the meantime, however, drawing remains an effortless and fun passion to him.

“I don’t even think of it as drawing. It’s as easy as breathing,” Mande said. “It’s just something that I do.”

Jacob Spiegel can be contacted at [email protected]