Friends, coworkers and strangers mingled within a dimly lit Teller’s. Small spotlights focused on brightly colored pieces of artwork displayed without glass on the walls. Curiosity and positivity surrounded the room as viewers asked questions about the art and talked to one another.
On February 4, Kate Gray, assistant professor of graphic design, opened a new art show at Teller’s. This series of paintings is lighter and more positive than her previous installment, which had a more serious tone. Gray looks to her students for inspiration.
“A thing I’ve learned from my students is how important it is to think in a positive way, to act in a positive way and to fill your life with positive people,” Gray said.
She used the plus sign symbol within some of her recent paintings to represent positivity. She contrasted bright colors and the structured plus sign shape with abstract textures.
“I really wanted to try and get some texture into my work because that’s what happens when you experience that positive belief – it’s multilevel, it’s not flat,” Gray said.
Gray says this show was the most difficult she has ever created because she used new mediums and new subject matters. She incorporated a different color palette and metal into her paintings.
“A million little things were running through my head that I had never dealt with before,” Gray said, “‘How long does this take to dry? How do I get the objects to stick together? What if my pieces fall off the wall?’”
For the illustrative paintings, Gray utilized watercolor, which she frequently uses in her paintings. On the more abstract paintings she tried out new mediums such as archival methods and exposed paintings.
“I kept trying to do electric shock to my soul,” Gray said, “Wake up, try something new, be fearless.’”
Gray believes in incorporating this same sense of fearlessness, newness and optimism into her classes at Stephens and into her personal life.
Recently, Gray was accepted to the Vermont College of Fine Art in Montpelier. Gray will be working towards her Master’s in Fine Art in Graphic Design beginning in April. This program enables Gray to pursue her master’s while still teaching at Stephens.
“I already have this built-in discipline established with my fine art,” Gray said. “The amount of time I already spend in fine art, will now be going into my master’s.”
Gray plans to devote the time she already spends on her art outside of teaching to the work she will create with her new degree. She believes this upcoming endeavor will benefit her students and help fuel what she teaches in her classes.
The process of applying to Vermont College of Fine Art was a valuable experience, according to Gray, because it enabled her to teach her portfolio class about what she learned from putting a portfolio together. Gray believes the combination of teaching classes and working on her master’s will be a good match.
“When something fits, it just feels good,” Gray said, “I’m really positive it will work out very well and allow me to explore many things.”