A monthly column that keeps its finger on the pulse of Forsyth’s artists and their inspiring stories. This month’s featured artist, Grace Ramsey, steps out from traditional limitations of the canvas to tell stories from an aerial perspective mixed with her deep understanding of movement, line and shape to create artwork that brings its viewer along for the journey.
How would you describe your work?
I create works in abstract expressionism in mixed media. I prefer to use fast-drying materials like latex, acrylic, and gouache paints, along with charcoal, oil pastel, markers, and varying types of medium. I like to work at a large scale! My work places emphasis on gesture, color, and texture.
What influences your art most?
My time spent as a working circus artist, especially on the aerial hoop was a big influence. I was one of the pioneers of an apparatus called the Lollipop, which is a steel hoop mounted on a freestanding pole. Unlike the traditional aerial hoop where it moves with you, you move around the lollipop. It radically changed how I understood momentum, line, and how to approach a story with the limitation of it being on the floor. I think this is heavily represented in how broad and sweeping my lines are in my visual work. Whenever I see my work, I feel the same way I used to in the air.
My work’s also been influenced by my last summer in Moab, Utah – the colors, shapes, and textures of the area utterly blew my mind. You learn to break objects down to their basic shapes in your head, and the rock formations, epic cloudscapes, and winding Colorado River have no shortage of fascinating forms. I’m curious to know how North Carolina will inspire me!
How have you evolved, personally, as an artist?
When I started making art as a kid, I was very much in it for validation. It was something that got me positive attention in a world where I was relentlessly bullied. That desire flipped itself on its head when it came time to find my own voice. I was afraid to make anything that could be considered “bad” – whether it’s unskillful, pretentious, shallow, or just plain ugly.
That need to be validated bled into all areas of my life, and it wasn’t until 2021 that I had to face who I really was, and reclaim that person, along with every quirk and little love she has. After that, I had to make art; I had to express and share all the beauty I see in my world. The difference is that now I make art not to make any specific point or message, I just put it all down because making art physically feels good, and thinking about it feels good. That detachment from the outcome has freed me to make art that I stand behind, and hopefully resonates with others, too!
How do you carve out time to be creative?
Honestly? I weigh the consequences and say, “Eh, there’s always coffee!” Then I end up making art well into the night until I can’t keep my eyes open. I go to work the next day exhausted but satisfied. Coffee is my most valuable collaborator. (My order is currently a grande caramel latte, hot, with whip, because why just be caffeinated when you can be embarrassingly sugar high, as well?).
What are you working on that excites you right now?
I’m working on applying for grants and exhibitions for a new series I’m hoping to make. I want to work on a large scale: ten 5×5′ canvases and five 7×7’ canvases. I’m also wildly inspired by light neutrals. So I want to explore limiting my color palette to just those warm gray and brown tones. I’m experimenting with adding stucco and clay to my works as well.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to share with fellow artists?
Get out and explore! Artistic movement, classes on story-telling, theatrical improv classes – your artistic voice doesn’t only exist in your head, but in your whole body.
Movement artists are the masters of interpreting shapes and ideas. Talk about a limited palette – all they have is their bodies. They have no choice but to evoke what they see, breaking it down to its barest representation and convincing the audience of its believability. They don’t have the luxury of spelling out what their objective is, they have to detach themselves from what the audience takes from a performance.
Performers deal with embarrassing ourselves constantly, visual artists should explore that as well in order to create work that is shamelessly theirs.
If you are interested in learning more about Grace Ramsey you can follow her on Instagram @graceramsey-fineart as well as find her work online at www.grace-ramsey.com. You can also contact her directly for information regarding bookings and commissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.