By: Tom Hubbard
Amandda Graham is the Ohio Art League artist now exhibiting at the Port Columbus Gateway to the Arts, a collaboration between the Airport Authority and OAL. The exhibit is on the ticketing level, near Cup O Joe and Max and Irma’s. This is her story.
It was a moment of affirmation. Amandda Graham’s dad was standing in front of “Midnight Zen,” one of her MFA exhibition paintings. Amandda was thrilled. “He absolutely loved it. He was finally good with me dumping music for art,” she said.
Amandda attended music magnet schools in junior and high school. She started at Ohio State on a music scholarship. She dabbled in art before falling in love with the work of Pheoris West an Ohio State art professor. “I switched and never looked back,” she said. She even turned down an offer from the US Marine Corp President’s Band. “My parents questioned the change from music scholarship to art with no scholarship. Painting took me by surprise,” Amandda said.
Dad and Amandda were thrilled at that MFA exhibit. Dad’s a painter but he kept asking her, “How did you do this?” The “Midnight Zen” painting now hangs in dad’s living room. It’s lead to a lifetime of sharing art, with each trying techniques and sharing with the other.
“Midnight Zen” is visually tall and thin. It is dark like stone smoke creeping up. Amandda says, “It’s a back porch, smoking a cigar, ambiguous, diseased lungs, has to do with smoking. I want to make beautiful the ugly, thinking about disease, germs in a bathtub.”
Her dad does representational science fiction art while Amandda does the abstract paintings now on display at the OAL Port Columbus exhibit. She says, “We have different styles, but both use vivid colors and have lots of motion.”
Amandda now has a bachelor of fine arts and a 2002 masters in painting and drawing from Ohio State. She was surprised to be awarded the Edith Fergus Gilmore award in her first year a graduate school. It included a $1,000 scholarship to buy materials.
There have been challenges. She suffered an art dry spell for four years because of personal setbacks. She was divorced, lost her painting studio and lost two close family members. She now has Jeff, her supportive husband, a studio in her German Village home, and two dogs. Jeff coated their basement with epoxy to keep out moisture. The light fixtures are daylight. “I’ve been painting like mad for two years,” she said.
“The studio is therapeutic, I listen to classical music. I was a classical clarinetist. I’m grateful for family. It keeps me healthy and happy.”
She has a fulltime job and may work on her art from 7 P.M. to 3 A.M. “I painted a big blue wall in front of me at my office. I hang reproductions of my art,” she said.
“With my art, I’m saying to the viewer that color is therapy, it’s what paintings will do for someone. “I’m doing a larger view, I’m magnifying what the eye cannot see. It’s a happy energy of, what could that be? I see things in paintings to stimulate viewing. My themes are biomorphic, liquid-scapes, the fluid in the body magnified beyond what the eye can see.” she said.
She has joined Creative Arts of Women (CAW). She will be doing a show at the Main Library’s Carnegie Gallery. Each artist will be doing a self-portrait for a January 13 to February 19 exhibit. The opening reception is at the Main Library, January 14, 5 P.M. to 7 P.M.
“I will use vivid colors of my style applied to an abstract picture of my face,” she said. The self-portrait began with a distorted image from an old cell phone. “The colors went funky. You can’t get those colors in Photoshop. Who knows where that will go. It’s me radiating the colors of my aura. The old cell phone image looks like a heat sensitive image. It’s dyslexic, ambidextrous switch, using both sides of my mind.”
Amandda just received another honor, a fellowship from the Ohio State University Arts Initiative for Emerging Artists.