Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lynda Ray: Richmond, Virginia


Artist Lynda Ray in her studio

Please share a little about yourself.

I've been making things as far back as I can remember. As a child I was always trying to understand machines and tools. I was interested in how things worked. I was also curious about what plant and animal life had in common with manmade objects, and how this all works together to make our world. My sources were not books or television—they were observations of my environment.

NOTE: click on photos to enlarge

Pale Terrace
Encaustic 12" x 12"

As a small child, I visited my grandmother's farm almost every weekend, and there I would explore the hayloft, the animals, and all that goes along with farm life. I grew up outside of Boston in a rural community that quickly became populated with returning World War II veterans who were starting families. So while I experienced the natural world, I also watched my father build our house. And as I got older I would explore the building sites of new homes and schools when the builders weren't there. It was very exciting to climb around the buildings' skeletons and see the daily progress.

At home I was encouraged to paint and draw. At school my artistic abilities were recognized in the 3rd grade, and I was invited to take advanced art classes with other students in my town on Saturdays. It was exciting and affirming to be with others who had strong visual sensibilities.

Amber Circuit
Encaustic 12" x 12"
On school-sponsored field trips to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston I remember returning home on the bus at night and seeing everything out of the window differently. The winters are cold in New England, and I saw the bare lacework of the trees contrasted with the orange sunset and fading light. I felt that art and nature were one and the same, and I was deeply moved by both.

Did you receive any formal art training? If yes where and what did you major in? I majored in Painting at Mass College of Art and Design. Upon graduation in 1987, I was fortunate to attend Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. I was on fire with passion and excitement to be in such a supportive and stimulating environment. Joseph Campbell was a visiting artist and discussed the important role of the artist in society. Agnes Martin was  a resident artist and was very inspirational and supportive of my work.

I recall Agnes saying that we can't make a perfect painting, but we can see perfection in our minds. Martin said that art itself cannot be perfect because it's of this world, while perfection is immaterial. She told us that the artist can awaken viewers’ memories of past experiences of beauty and perfection.

Mixed media 18" x 24"

LH: What is your current work about? 
My work is influenced by patterns found in nature and by architectural elements. Hand in hand with those interests, is the physicality of the materials and the potential for transforming colors and shapes into a visceral connection for the viewer is my challenge.
By layering colors, forms and patterns the work occludes and reveals the process of construction.  Time is an important part of the work through the visible evidence of the process.

Mixed media 18x24

Mineral Weave
Encaustic 12" x 12"
I am interested in the systems and marks humans have made on the earth’s surface specifically the patterns of plowed fields of farmers and the pastures from ancient times.  I respond to the traces of these changes. My surroundings are a living entity with recurring shapes on the land, eroded by nature, creating a layered beauty. They are much like a double exposed  photograph where multiple moments reflect the passage of time.

Mixed media 18 x 24
I work with these patterns and medium in a building up and breaking down process.  This action reflects the dynamic of the land. As a working artist I explore the world around me and those observations enter my pieces. My process evolves as I continue to paint almost every day, discovering new visual ideas. I feel extremely fortunate to be doing what I love.

What is your workspace like?
It is an extension of my house with great natural light.

Ray's Studio

Are you involved with any arts groups or communities?
I keep in touch with artists through facebook  and various other long distant connections as well as a few artists who are nearby.  It’s exciting to be connected with talented hard working and sincere people. These affiliations energize me.

Do you have other jobs other than making art? If so, please give us some details.

All my life I have worked at jobs, almost every possible kind to support my art career. My real work always came first.

You can see more of Lynda's work on her website.

Thank you, Lynda for a terrific interview.