Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Above the Surface 

Printmaker Michael Sean Holihan regards his art as "a diary, a journal . . . between me and what I perceive." Although their imagery may be very much of the world--madonnas recur in the five paintings he's showing at the Cleveland Institute of Art's Faculty Exhibition--his works are ultimately reflective. Whereas Pop Art is all about surfaces, Holihan's work is about what transcends them.

Part of that interest in an inner world, one that is both obscured by and revealed through the visual, probably arose from his own deceptive appearance, says Holihan: "A lot of people see my work, and because I'm a pretty good-sized guy, they say, 'I didn't know somebody like you could do something delicate like that,'" he says. "We have a side that we show and a side that we carry around.

"I do hope that when people look at the work, it transcends the visual and might let them reflect on something other than the religious. When I look at art, I look at things and ask myself would I like to own it, or would I like to have it around. I have a relationship with it that goes beyond things put into words."

Holihan, a professor of printmaking, grew up in Connecticut and has taught at the Institute since 1980. This is the first year the Institute's faculty show is restricted to full-time faculty, so full-timers have the chance to show more than one or two pieces. Past years have included part-time and night school faculty; the Institute's new president, David Deming, changed the policy. The show runs through Dec. 23.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Latest in Visual Art

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation