Michael Marshall, Professor of Art

Above photo: Feb. 7, 2012, a Special Message from then governor Neil Abercrombie was accepted by Professor Michael Marshall on behalf of the UH Hilo Department of Art and the supporting organizations responsible for the Poetry and Blues Project.

Prof. Marshall is an artist and educator with a focus on building community, He is a master painter and print maker who juggles work on his own art for exhibitions with the demands of academic and community service.

Michael Marshall
Michael Marshall

Michael Marshall, professor of art and chair of the art department at University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, arrived at the university in 1984. He is a master painter and print maker who juggles work on his own art for exhibitions with the demands of academic life. He is fully engaged in teaching his students, building and expanding the UH Hilo art department, and bringing visiting artists to campus. And if that’s not enough, he’s also enriching the local art community with educational and cultural programs of his own creation.

Summer Ai-Hilo

In 2012, Marshall received a $10,000 grant from the Laila Twigg-Smith Art Fund, administered by the Hawai‘i Community Foundation. The award was used to launch the UH Hilo Summer Art Institute (Summer Ai-Hilo) in 2013.

The concept of the institute was conceived by Marshall and is designed for intermediate college level art majors and advanced students.  He says he envisions the institute as an international art forum modeled on an African style family compound where visiting scholars, patrons, students and friends from the continental United States, the Pacific Rim, and elsewhere abroad gather to teach, learn and exchange ideas.

“The long-range goal is to develop Summer Ai-Hilo as a select program, a program with the ability to attract from an international pool of highly recommended artists and advanced students,” says Marshall. “The institute will create an exponential expansion of this program into an 11-month operation that will further helps us to distinguish the UH Hilo degree program in art.”

Priority and scholarships to the program are given to the most qualified junior and senior level students currently enrolled in the UH Hilo art department degree program. Students choose between two of three summer studio unit offerings, are automatically registered into the humanities unit, and earn three studio art credits upon successful completion of the summer course. Enrollment is limited to 45.

The artist

Marshall also is a nationally recognized artist.

A work of his was selected by Shahzia Sikander (MacArthur Fellow, 2006) for New Prints 2012/Summer, the International Print Center New York’s 42nd New Prints show. The IPCNY was established in 2000 and is the first and only non-profit institution devoted solely to the exhibition and understanding of fine art prints.

Monoprint by Michael Marshall
Monoprint by Michael Marshall shown at his solo exhibition earlier this year at the Skoto Gallery, New York. Untitled, 2011, monoprint, 25.75×17.75 inches. Photo Kevin Diminyatz

Marshall’s work also has been exhibited at Hawai‘i Art Now, Honolulu Art Museum (formerly the Honolulu Academy of Arts).

In 2012, Marshall had a solo exhibition at the Skoto Gallery in New York. The Skoto Gallery was established in 1992 as a space where some of the best works by African artists can be exhibited within the context of a diverse audience.

“This series of prints began in response to images created by sculptor Albert Paley during his residency in the art department print studio at the University of Hawai‘i Hilo [in] October, 2010,” says Marshall about the Skoto exhibit. “In my prior experience with mono print which was limited to the direct manipulation of color applied with brushes to a plate surface, the flatness of the final image left me with the impression that I had engaged in a poor substitute for painting. I had not considered the possibility of creating mono prints utilizing stencils until I witnessed Paley at work.”

From the gallery’s press release about Marshall’s exhibit:

Michael Marshall’s recent monoprints are characterized by a carefully structured and organized rhythm of dynamic lines and organic forms, mastery of the nuances of color and composition, deep sensitivity to texture combined with a display of emotional intensity. A highly inventive and renowned artist who uses complex procedures with oil-based media and overlapping stencils in his paintings, he has consistently explored the expressive possibilities of abstraction in his encounter with history and global transformation over the past three decades. His work is dense with visual overload that reflects an awareness of a vast array of both formal and inherited traditions, and employs a rich vocabulary of signs and markers that speak boldly and clearly to a universal audience.


In Hilo, Marshall devotes time and expertise to building and strengthening the local art community.

He continues to develop the Howard and Yoneko Droste Visiting Research Fellow Initiative. Through the program, Marshall brings distinguished multi-disciplinary teaching artists to UH Hilo for residencies that explore the art practice in a variety of genre and engage the Hilo artistic community. Among the distinguished artists Marshall has invited are visual artist Albert Paley, filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris, dramatist Paul Carter Harrison, sculptor Richard Hunt and Bay area artists Carlos Villa and Oliver Jackson.

Marshall also created the Poetry and Blues Project, which is a part of the Droste Initiative.

Marshall’s ongoing project, “Voices in a Nation,” is a cross-disciplinary humanities division initiative launched in February 2003 to acknowledge significant writers, visual artists, and performers from a pan-ethnic perspective. Marshall developed the project in collaboration with Jackie Pualani Johnson, retired professor of drama, and Seri Luangphinith, professor of English.

He also has been actively engaged with a number of community organizations including the Volcano Art Center, East Hawai‘i Cultural Center, the Wailoa Center, the Ha‘aheo Soccer Club, Big Island Futbol Club, Hilo AYSO, and Our Downtown Hilo.


Marshall received his bachelor of fine arts in painting from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and master of fine arts in painting from Yale.

By Susan Enright, public information specialist, Office of the Chancellor. 

Originally published April 18 2012; updated May 25, 2018.