Michael Banks was born in 1972 to a single mother in a housing project in northern Alabama. As a child, Banks loved to draw and paint on anything he could find.
His mother both encouraged him to make art and warned of the difficulties. He created in obscurity until 1992 when his mother died. For five years, Banks fell into a deep dep- ression and could not paint. Finally, he remembered the hope and encouragement his mother gave him and started to paint again. Now, Michael says that he paints because it keeps him alive, he must paint in order to survive.