Saturday, November 14, 2009

Debra Ramsay's art influences

Measuring Parallels 38
wax and eggshell on aluminum panel
24 inches square

I first saw Debra Ramsay 's work at one of the art fairs in NYC, in 2008. I met her this June at her and Cora Jane Glasser's show during the Third Annual Encaustic Conference in MA.That was where the conversation about titling paintings took place. Along with her paintings she also was showing small wonderful graphite works on paper-gems.

I find her work thoughtful, soulful, and meditative. It is also based on mathematics which is so far from my place of artmaking that I find it intriguing.

Deb recently had a solo show called "Balancing Act "at
Blank Space in Chelsea in October. She and I also are two of the four artists chosen for the Dana Women's Artists Series
:Illusive Balance: Transcendental Pattern and Layered Surface in March of 2010. Her most recent project is the Postcard Race featured below.

The Postcard Race has begun! On Nov 4, at 4:40 pm I mailed 100 postcards, asking the recipients to mail them back to me. As they return I calculate the mph that the card traveled from Nov 4 at 4:40 until the moment I receive it. I will create an installation of the cards using their speed as a distinguishing factor within the installation. So far speeds as great as .168 mph have been achieved!!

Calculated Perception, 8 forms
wax on paper
eight pieces 8 x 5.5 inches each



The concept of balance interests me. Metaphorically, we search for balance in our lives. In the series “Measuring Parallels” I divide the surface area of each painting into two equal parts by measurement. Using wax or eggshell to distinguish each half, I find different ways to formulate this division. “Calculated Perceptions” is a continuation of the idea, looking at the differences of perceived and calculated (measured) balance. “Equal Weights” is a series involving balance where the different materials used are of the same weight. I reduce my visual language to horizontal and vertical line.
I build abstract paintings by combining two different materials; usually pigmented wax and eggshells. Using mathematics as a tool in this binary approach, I create serially related works. In kinship with artists as diverse as Mel Bochner and Tara Donovan, I make incremental changes within the concept of a series, each painting being part of a visual progression.
My materials include eggshells. The process is based on a centuries old technique. In choosing the shapes and sizes of the fragments of shell and ascribing the areas between them, I engage in deliberate mark making. I also apply pigmented wax in multiple layers, using a variety of tools, creating subtleties of color and texture.
The materials I use leave subtle evidence of a surface worked by hand.
Debra Ramsay

The shelf-life of this list will be pretty short, only because I'll want to add other names. The names I'm listing below are of people who have created work that continues to fulfill my needs for beauty, intelligence, humor, and surprise. I feel fortunate to live in such a rich visual culture with all the forms of image communication we have. It allows me to "know" the work, although never having seen the actual pieces. I recently attended, for the first time, the Biennial in Venice. That brought a slew of additional artists into my awareness. I'm still recovering from the intensity of that trip. Artists work that I'm happy that I know about:
Walter DeMaria

Alfonso Bianchi
Pak Sheung Chuen
Tara Donovan
Byron Kim
Sol LeWitt
Georgio Morandi
Lygia Pape
Robert Ryman
Anne Truitt

This was a great opportunity to think of them yet again!

Measuring Parallels #33 encaustic, eggshell on birch panel, 2008 12 in x 24 in

Yellow and Black Balance
encaustic eggshell inlay on MDF board
four 6 x 6 inch squares

About Eggshell Inlay :
This technique is believed to have originated in China, and was later transferred to Japan via Korea. Many examples from the Meiji era (late 19th century) exist today as small decorative boxes or bowls.
Actual eggshells are used, in their natural colors of white, brown and blue/green.
D Ramsay


Nancy Natale said...

What a great post! Debra, it's such a pleasure to see your work here. It is beautiful and the way you create it is so intriguing with the math and chance influencing the compositions. Thanks for posting, Lisa.

Hylla Evans said...

Debra Ramsay's work is stunning. Let's hope she has a show up at Montserrat come June.
As to your painting, there is no title on the 48x48 oil and wax painting and I LOVE it! Thanks for posting!

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Thank you for introducing me to this great work. I love the textures. I have rusted egg shells in the past and used them...but they really make a great match with the wax.

Stephanie Clayton said...

I recently came across Debra's work on Joanne Mattera's blog, and was fascinated by her technique and materials.
I enjoyed your post here immensely, which gives further insight into Debra's process. The idea of using balance, chance and mathematics is intriguing; and these elements added to Debra's visual language make for beautiful and extraordinary works of art.

Debra Ramsay said...

Many thanks to Lisa for encouraging me to answer her question regarding influences. It's such a worthwhile exercise for every artist to take the time to think about. Thanks too to you the "commentors" for your kind words.

Here's a great link, to Lygia Pape's work. I saw this piece installed at the Venice Biennale and it was stunning and profound. (sorry I don't know how to make the link hot)