Ebony on Ivory

MoonRose and MoonShadow
Masculine and Feminine Energy 

Ebony Gray is a self taught artist from Vauxhall, New Jersey

My name is Monika Griffin and my new website highlights and promotes many aspects of our culture including artists that are looking to make an impact on our culture. Ebony Gray was my very first interview and I'm excited for you to get to know her.  I hope you all enjoy everything Designing Culture has to offer as well as my one on one interview with Ebony.  Please stay tuned for additional stories from people you may know. Now lets get to know Ebony a little better.

Ebony and I sat down on a beautiful evening in September 2018 to discuss her passion for art. We spoke about several things pertaining to her work, personal life and somethings that could not be included in this article, but just know that the process was very entertaining.  Here we go!

Q: What is one of your strengths when it comes to your art?
"Not judging myself while I’m creating.  It's something that I'm working on because stress ruins the details of the process. I’m better at going with the flow and I’ve given myself permission to work with mistakes and include them in the project."
Several of my paintings are hanging throughout my room because I get really excited about my work.

That’s a bit narcissistic don’t you think? I asked

Not necessarily.  I hang them up and stare at them for an infinite amount of time and judge them.  I think about what I could have done better or see what needs to be fixed.  Like I said, I'm working on not judging my self so harshly. 

Q: What is one of your weakness?
"I have to learn to stop inducing my own anxiety over things that don’t really exist while I’m working."

Q: Do you paint to pass on a message?
"That’s not what it’s about because painting is very personal for me. I paint for myself and hope that others will be just as excited about my work as I am. Once I paint something that I am super excited about, I want to share it with others."

Q: Do you research different styles?
"My grandma yells at me all of the time because she doesn’t think I give myself enough time to hone a style. I usually give myself six months to a year and then I move on to something different. After watching art videos online and going to museums, I then decide to mix the different styles to see what happens. It’s fun to learn new styles and try to incorporate them into one big piece."

Q: What genre do you paint in?
"Afrocentric pop art. I gravitate to pop art, I also like sharper and more defined lines and on top of that my work is rooted in blackness."

Q: What artist(s) have inspired you?
"One of the artists that has inspired me is Alfonso Ossorio. Alfonso was a Filipino American abstract expressionist artist. The piece that drew me in was a picture of mix media, paints and inks on canvas that were scrapped off and it gave the picture a flatter vision and you could also see all of the details in that piece.  I really have a weird relationship with looking at other artists work. At one point when I wasn’t painting, looking at other art pieces would make me angry because they were achieving more than I was and I knew I wasn’t painting nearly as much as I should have been. So whenever I would go long stretches without painting I would stop searching for art work to avoid looking in the mirror."

Q: What motivates you to do what you do? What makes you decided to not sit on your ass binge watching the latest Netflix series? What makes you not hit the snooze button for just ten more minutes? 
"Guilt!"  She blurts out

Laughter ensues between Ebony and I.

"I think I may have been catholic in my past life" She proclaims.

Q: Are you single?
"Very much so."

Q: What is your favorite color?
"I don’t have a favorite color. People tell me that my answer is a cop out but because I like to paint, I may go through a phase of liking a certain color and I've learned to appreciate that color for the time being. At one point it was burgundy colors but right now I am into blushes and soft pinks which is something I never thought I’d be into."

Q: Is there one painting that you were one hundred percent satisfied with?
"Yes. My friend has it and that's a good thing because I can visit the painting without telling my friend the real motive for me stopping by."

Q: Are your materials expensive?
"Yes but I’m trying to curb my spending habits."

Q:"So, do you miss lunch and then spend that money on art supplies?
"No. I’ll do both and then pray for payday to roll around again. But I really need to to go back to a company I used to get my art supplies from called Art Snacks, https://www.artsnacks.co/ ,they are a subscription art supply company and each month they will send you new art materials and a snack."

Q: What do you want people to know about your art?
"That it’s for sale."

"I was looking for something a little more profound but that will work."

Q: What is the highest price you’ve sold a paining for?
"The price tag was somewhere between $250-$300."

Q:Have any friends or family members asked you for a discount?
"No, I think they know how much work I put into my art but sometimes I gift work for special occasions.

Q: So, what is next for you?
Eventually I will have a website that includes all of my work as well as create prints. One day I hope to put all of my focus into my art work and what ever direction it takes me in.

Ebony and I sat around her kitchen table for a few hours discussing art, dating, co-workers, music and other topic's that, like I said at the beginning of the article, can't be disclosed.

For the most part, Ebony's training came from her passion, hard work and self- education. So when you think about what your passion is, keep in mind that the traditional way is great but may not be available to you or not the best option for you. Today there are different routes to take to achieve your dreams and if you don’t see one then make one."

If you would like more information on Ebony, please go to her instagram page Ebony-vivalamodnar

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments below.

Monika Griffin
Designing Culture

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