Best Of | Visual Arts

Michelle Franzoni Thorley: Finding and Painting Lost Relatives

Michelle Franzoni Thorley, an only child, was raised by “a savvy single mother, whose favorite color is green.” Her father taught her about Mexican culture and art.

“I have always felt inspired by the indigenous and Latin art. I love to share my view of the world through bright colors and plant life,” she says. “Over the years, I have experienced the compassion and understanding that comes with adversity, and I try to reflect that in my art.  I enjoy painting about family history because it helps me feel connected to the past and gives me strength for the future.”

She says the best moment of 2018 was finding a lost relative. “I’ve been doing a lot of family history [research] these past two years, trying to find out more about my ancestors. In the process of searching through the old records of my great-grandparents, I found the death record of one of their daughters that died as a baby and was forgotten about. It was so exciting to call my relatives and confirm we had found a missing family member! Listing the missing daughter’s name, along with her family was so moving that I felt inspired to paint her. The painting was the centerpiece to my ofrenda this year as we celebrated Dia de Los Muertos.”

“The Finding Process,” 30″ x 35″

You can view more of her work at


Best Of (2018) curated by Emily Larsen.

Categories: Best Of | Visual Arts

2 replies »

  1. Hi Michelle. I enjoyed the Conference time piece done on “sacred images” where I learned of your amazing art. As a Thorley, and noting that your married name is Thorley, i am curious to know which Thorley you are married to. All Thorleys (who are LDS) descend from Thomas Thorley who was sent by Brigham to Southern Utah with the early Iron Mission. He is my great grandfather. In my old age I enjoy seeking out other Thorleys and learning how they connect to Thomas and then to me. I would love to talk with you and/or your husband. I can be reached at 951-760-8855, or by email. Thank you.

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