OVAC Grant Recipient Chris Ramsay

December 29, 2015

Grants for Artists | Resources for Artists | Artist Opportunities | , , , ,

Below is a profile of one of our recent grant recipients. Our next Artist Grant deadline is January 15, 5pm. Artists can apply in 4 categories for up to $1,500 in funds. More information at www.ovacgrants.org

Chris Ramsay was awarded the opportunity to be an Artist-in-Residence at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon for two weeks in the fall of 2015.  Chris will use the information gathered to create a new body of work. The conceptual narrative derived from the residency will be directed towards the creation of new sculptural wall pieces. This new artwork will emulate the ways in which natural processes reveal history and present conditions of the environment.  The new body of work will be exhibited in the fall of 2016. He has an invitation to exhibit at the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources Gallery in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and will be working in the first half of 2016 to secure additional venues for exhibition. Below is his report on his experience at Crater Lake.

“I recently returned to Oklahoma from a two-week Artist-in-Residency at Crater Lake National Park, September 19 – October 3, 2015. The residency themed “Visions of Climate Change” provided an opportunity to discuss environmental impact with national park research scientists and visit research sites within the park. The experience provided important lessons on the sensitivity of the environment to global climatic conditions and the interconnection of life forms on earth. Reinforcing my determination to express environmental concerns as an integral aspect of a new body of artwork to be created over the coming year.

I am intrigued with the narrative that natural processes can reveal about the history and present conditions of the environment. There has always been a balance between forces in nature that ebb and flow over time; change is emanate. However, human accelerated generation of carbon-based emissions over the past 100+ years continue to stress the sustainable balance resulting in challenging environmental conditions. As an artist I want to make work that can awaken the spirit within to be a good steward of our home/earth. Heightening an awareness of the interdependence of life forms and reinforcing a message of hope through sustainability and thoughtful environmental action.

While conducting research at Crater Lake I was particularly drawn to the narrative revealed by trees of changing climatic conditions within the environment, especially related to the effects of declining precipitation; from a 44-foot average annual snow fall to just under 16-feet last year.


Chris Ramsay at Crater Lake National Park

I observed the effects of warming global temperatures and corresponding severe weather as I cautiously hiked through a smoldering, decimated old-growth forest in the largest fire in park history (2 separate lightening strikes were the source of the fire.) Warmer seasonal temperatures encourage pine beetle population growth and have increased the insect’s opportunities to overcome natural defense mechanisms of conifer trees and advance towards higher elevation trees, such as the white bark pine that has no natural defenses against the beetle. Other narratives can be read in lichen and moss growth on the exterior bark of trees that provide a natural monitor revealing seasonal snow depth. Within the inner core of the tree itself lies a narrative index that records major climate and environmental events in the region through the density of concentric spring/summer annual growth rings. The narratives found within trees and other forms in nature provide a strong visual platform to mimic as I develop a new series of artworks composed of layered natural and recycled materials.


Chris Ramsay “Offering,” Inner poem of peace, bronze, copper, wood, 1920’s postcard image, found objects, 16” x 18” x 6”, 2005/2012.

The new work I envision creating following the Crater Lake National Park Artist-in-Residency begins with the creation of large sheets of layered recycled and natural materials with visual environmental information buried within the layers mimicking narrative tree growth rings. The laminated material will be designed to be cut on a large-scale CAD milling machine revealing the content-layered information upon the surface and shaped into sculptural wall pieces. The forms will then be further manipulated by hand and inlaid with select found objects and fabricated elements specific to each artwork’s conceptual narrative. These pieces will serve as the foundation of a larger body of artwork that I will produce and seek venues for exhibition in 2016/17.

I deeply appreciate the support of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition in the pursuit of this project. The experience proved to be an invaluable source of environmental information leading to the development of the next generation of artworks that I will create.”

OVAC accepts grant applications in 4 categories: Professional Basics, Education, Creative Projects, and Community Artist Partnership. Applications must be received by 5 pm on January 15, 2016.