If one thing immediately stands out about young artist Kathleen Ramirez, ’15, it is her dedication.
“You need to focus on your art — how much do you love it?” Ramirez said she asked herself at the beginning of her senior year at the University of Dallas. “4:30 in the morning. That’s how much I love it. So I’m serious, dead serious, I’m waking up at 4:30 in the morning every single day, I go to the studio, work for like three, four hours straight and then go to class … I produced so much work. And I was like, ‘Wow, this is art, and this is how much I love it.’ ”
The perseverance Ramirez cultivated that semester has followed her after graduation, leading her to make a New Year’s resolution to enter 12 exhibitions in 2017. She’s already entered three as of February, one of which earned Ramirez her first art award outside of college: an honorable mention in the Texas Visual Arts Association (TVAA) exhibition, “A Winter’s Tale,” for her piece “Fracture in Ice.”
“[The exhibition] was an open call for anything kind of winter-themed or anything associated with [the] cold,” Ramirez said. “So I’ve been working with more abstract stuff because whenever I try to render something realistic, it doesn’t work … I’d been working with a similar theme I’d applied to my solo exhibition, ‘Fractured Sanctum.’ I did a similar thing, that kind of cracked look … I entered a piece like that.”
Ramirez said that her decision to submit a piece similar to her works featured in “Fractured Sanctum” partly resulted from the Irving Art Association’s feedback on her solo exhibition from last month.
“Apparently some people [from the Irving Arts Center] had gone over and checked out my work and thought, ‘That’s impressive,’ ” Ramirez said. “[So I thought] I might push this concept now that I’m getting feedback.”
Her inspiration for “Fractured Sanctum,” which, according to the Irving Art Association’s website, “attempts to capture experiences that break the solitude and safety of a person’s physical, mental or emotional attributes,” came from personal experiences, including her job nannying a teenage girl with Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) and struggles in her family.
“We’re actually exploring the mind here,” Ramirez said. “So it’s like I can actually hear [this girl’s] mind when she talks, when she draws, just anything. Some of the pieces are inspired directly by her … one is called ‘Actually, No, No, Never, No,’ which is something she’s said.”
Ramirez added that she’s become more drawn to these sometimes painful experiences, even though she resisted working with them at first.
“Those emotions, they’re strong, and they’re real,” Ramirez said. “I’ve been working with these interference paints, and the cool thing with interference paints … they work with light, which is something I love, [and] depending on the angle, it might be violet, or white … and it forces the viewer to interact with the piece. It’s the same with other human beings, other human interactions. You’ll never know how another person feels until you’ve seen [things] from every angle, but even then, you’ll never really know the paint itself … you’ll never know it. There’s still that kind of mystery there … and you can trap or capture that emotion and put it in the painting for all eternity. Some people may never know it’s there, but it’s there.”
Ramirez’s success in the TVAA exhibition has furthered her ambition to continue developing her work and submitting her work to prestigious exhibitions, including the biennial “Aurora” showcase in the Dallas Arts District.
Most important for her right now is taking time to hone and develop her craft, perhaps with the aim of graduate school in the next five years.
“I’m doing all of this just to keep up the craft,” Ramirez said. “You know, you got your bachelor’s in this. Keep rolling with it. Don’t stop.”
“A Winter’s Tale” will run until Feb. 28 at the TVAA Downtown Gallery.