Pushing Aesthetic Boundaries in Paint, Handmade Paper, and Mixed Media
Last night, I sneaked into the gallery to do the lighting for our new show. As I fiddled with the door lock, I could tell a real treat awaited me. Out of the corner of my eye, this gal is what I saw…..I savored the anticipation. I had the sense that I’d broken into the Mardi Gras float warehouses and was standing in awe of the theatricality of the whole thing!
I had a few questions for Ted Ramsay, so I asked away. The interview follows.
VM: So, Ted, I was immediately hit with the theatricality of the work when I went into the gallery! What can you say about that?
TR: Yes, they are a little theatrical to draw you in. The pieces each tell a story – the viewer has to look carefully to have the story unfold. It’s important that the story be told, but it is also important that the viewer bring his or her own story to the artwork and let that inform their experience of the artwork.
VM: The pieces really go back and forth between 2D and 3D and spend a fair amount of time hovering in the bas relief realm. A lot of thought has gone into the layers of depth in the pieces. How long have you been working on this body of work?
TR: I’ve been working on these off and on for a several years. I had to take a break from the project when I started dealing with macular degeneration. I have been taking treatment for the macular and can see again. The pieces allow me to bring together several of my loves, including papermaking and painting.
VM: I’m seeing people, animals, specifically wolves, and human-made structures and landscapes. There’s a narrative in each of the pieces that serves as a warning for us in our ‘human vs. nature’ relationship. Yet the making process involved in each piece seems like a joyous celebration of human creativity. Will you speak a bit about this?
TR: The pieces really are about this love/hate relationship with nature…living as a part of nature and our need to dominate it. We are all kind of captured on this wonderful little earth…and if we don’t take care of it , we’re going to be in trouble.
I see the wolf as more than just nurturing, for example, Romulus and Remus. We have relationships with animals that give us so much…some are practical, like goats eating a lawn or giving milk. And Frida Kahlo had miniature deer in her garden. When I was in Japan, there were deer gardens….kids would be walking along eating cotton candy and the deer would come up and nibble on it!
There are times when Mother Nature stops you in your tracks! On the back of the sculpture ‘Personification of Mother Nature’ is the wolf, and this is a warning to us , because they are being hunted. We don’t want them to be extinct like the Thylacine.
The work is about art, but it’s also about my feelings regarding nature. My studio is in the woods and I see deer meandering by the studio. Because of the reflection of the windows, they can’t see me, so I get to just watch them. There used to be a bobcat, but then someone down the way shot it. The chipmunk population just exploded! There’s a delicate balance in our relationship with nature.
I taught workshops all over the country and the globe. One of the reasons I was so interested in doing workshops around the world, was I got to meet people from all over the world and gain an appreciation for those people. For example, I was in Australia and saw how the Aboriginal folks would go to the city and get an education, then come back to the the outback and teach the next generation. My folks instilled in me the appreciation for people from all over by traveling to a different state every time they had the opportunity to travel. My father said, “Go to the other states, then you will understand better how those people think.” He was right!
‘Land is Life’ is a saying I saw all over the place when I was in Australia. And it’s true! The Aboriginal people seemed to have a great understanding of their relationship – their balance – with Mother Nature.
– Ted Ramsay’s show opens with a reception Friday, July 28, 7-9pm, Come meet the artist, see the work and ask some of your own questions!