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Work At Hand


about the film


Work At Hand chronicles the life and work of the artist, Michael K. Paxton. From his humble beginnings in the hills of West Virginia to his time as an art student at Marshall University in the gritty, industrial town of Huntington, to graduate school at the University of Georgia, Athens. During the heady heyday of the emerging scene of punk music, theater and performance art, and the era of bands like R.E.M., The B-52’s, and Pylon, Michael dove into the mosh pit of experimentation and free expression while working jobs at factories, on the railroad, and as a newspaper printer. Later, his battle to overcome stage 4 cancer would become an integral part of his story and a testimony to a sense of urgency and empathy in his paintings. Michael's working-class, Appalachian roots continue to inform his art today.


The Filmmakers


Peter Hartel

Peter is a director, writer, cinematographer, producer and editor who specializes in documentary, experimental, visual effects, animation, motion control camera, and computer-generated imaging projects for television, commercials, corporate and theatrical distribution. He has created and taught college courses in his field for over 22 years, and he is a tenured Associate Professor in the Cinema and Television Arts Department of Columbia College Chicago.

Peter is a 1981 graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a B.A. in Film.


Libi Hake

Libi Hake is a director, producer, writer, and editor with over 30 years experience working in the film industry. In addition to numerous videos for businesses and non-profits such as universities and medical centers, Libi has worked on documentary projects covering topics as diverse as the Israeli war of independence (“Is Jerusalem Burning?”), Huntington’s Disease (“A Mind in Quicksand”), and Harper Lee (“Song of the Mockingbird”). Her film on rodeo steer wrestlers (“Christmas Cowboy”) won best documentary feature at the Madrid Film Festival.

Libi is a 1981 graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a B.A. in Film Production.

Visit Libi’s website.

The Artist


Michael K. Paxton

Michael K. Paxton is a Chicago-based artist and sixth generation West Virginian with a career that spans more than 40 years. Michael has produced one-person exhibitions, received national and international grants and fellowships, private and public commissions and much critical support for his work. His supporters include the Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Inc., Illinois Arts Council, Air le Parc, Project and Research Center, Jentel Artist Residency Program, Chicago Federation of Labor, Marshall University and Columbia College.

Michael is an adjunct faculty member of Columbia College, Chicago since 2005. He holds a B.A. in Art from Marshall University, 1975, and an MFA in Drawing and Painting from The University of Georgia, 1979.

Visit Michael's website.