Artist Statement

For 8 years I have traveled the country, capturing women in rivers.

The act of placing women and their families in rivers in my River Story series is an act of class defiance and a declaration of independence from social constructs.

This body of work was birthed out of my own experience growing up in poverty as a first-generation-born American. So often as a child I was labeled and categorized based on what I did not have. Through creative inquiry I am able to explore what it is that truly makes us who we are when the cultural definitions of class and success are removed. In doing so, I am able to inch closer to my own understanding of self and belonging.

Inspired by artists like Anne Brigman and Gordon Parks, my eye is always gravitationally pulled into the direction of bold truths.

Growing up I was surrounded by laborers whose hands were always deep black in the creases and rough to the touch but filled with endless stories and reverence. I hope to create pieces that feel the same.

Published Books

Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden: Garden Journal (Chronicle Books.)

The Handcrafted Wedding (Sellers Publishing Inc.)

The Inspired Wedding (Sellers Publishing, Inc.)

Catch and Release (Self)

River Story (Limited Edition, Self)

City of Austin - Capacity Building Grant Maximum Award Recipient 2019

Upstream Gallery Juried Show, NY 2019

Top 10 Photography Educators in the World, Rangefinder Magazine

Top 30 Photographers in the World, Rangefinder Magazine

Top 10 Photographers in the US, Professional Photographers of America

Gallery Exhibitions and Awards

City of Austin Cultural Arts Division 15th annual People’s Gallery Exhibition 2019

FotoFest, Houston TX

ClickAway Gallery Show, San Antonio, TX

Robert’s Gallery, Cambridge MA

Harris Gallery, Miami FL

Joseloff Gallery, Hartford CT

ArtSpace Gallery, Hartford CT and NYC

Art for AIDS Exhibition, CT and NYC


Can I commission you to do a River Story of me and/or my family? Yes. I accept limited sessions each Spring, Summer and Fall. They are my favorite! Contact me for the details.

Where do you live? Austin, TX.

Do you teach classes? Yes. Over at The Define School.

Do you have social media? Yes. I most often use instagram @michellegardella

Do you offer prints for sale? I offer limited-edition, framed, signed prints.


What’s the best way to keep up with you? Instagram and/or my mailing list or come to Austin and let’s go out for cupcakes!