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"In This I Find Magic": An Interview with Grace Gebhard

Our January issue's featured artwork comes from Grace Gebhard, an emerging artist at the University in Michigan. We were immediately taken by her bold colors and the texture of her work. Here, she discusses the intersection of art forms and the role of influences:

1. What drew you to Split Lip? How does this month's featured image, "Rhapsody in Ultramarine Blue" speak to that?

I like to submit my work pretty regularly, which means pretty frequently exploring the interwebs for good lit blogs. Split Lip was one of them. I found Split Lip to be unique and right up my alley. I am a singer, dancer, writer and painter. I believe these arts to be inherently interconnected, and it is in this I find magic. Split Lip seems to find that magic, too. Since there seemed to be a focus for this issue on intensity and color, I chose to submit Rhapsody in Ultramarine Blue — a painting whose title is a play on a wonderful Gershwin piece, “Rhapsody in Blue.” A lot of feedback I get on my artworks is about my color choice — I use really intense colors. The brightness gives me, and I hope my viewers too, happiness. Split Lip seemed to be the perfect choice to spread this happiness, or maybe just intensity of emotion, to viewers.

2. You mention a passion for your passions are dance, music, and art your notes for Meshes in Harmony. How else do dance and music intersect with the art you make?

I’m actually currently working on a project that combines the movement of dance with the rhythm of music and painting. I’m working on a 4D piece that creates a space that is not only visual. One of my main themes exploring the relationship between the visceral notion of painting and the kinetics of sound, so this piece will include a piano accompaniment and a lyrical movement of brushwork on a canvas — it’s exciting.

3. As a preface for the Classics to Modern series, you state, "All work is influence." Can you talk about what this means to you? Who are your influences? In what ways do your influences inform your work? Do you ever push back against them?

Of course, an artist’s role, I believe, is to push back against their influences, eventually.

And yet when we look at art history, what do we see? Everyone looks back at Rafael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci. I decided to do so somewhat tongue-in-cheek with my series Classics to Modern. The series uses direct classical imagery (“The Creation of Adam,” “Mona Lisa,” etc.) and varies, enhances, and exaggerates color choice and technical style to turn classical renderings to the more eclectic nature of contemporary painting. All work is influence, but influence is altered.

And perhaps a pushback is simply a combination of influences, like we see in my series. I did this series a few years ago. I dealt quite heavily with the idea of originality when I created this series; I felt I could not create something truly original, and so I decided to use my influences overtly. Now, however, I use them inferentially. I attempt to make my inferences nuanced — so the homage toward my favorite artists is more of a subtle nod than a grand gesture.

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To learn more about Grace's work, visit http://gracegebhard.com/.


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