Mixed Greens Gallery in New York City hosted “Crossing the Line: Contemporary Drawing and Artistic Process,” a show curated by Dexter Wimberly and Larry Ossei-Mensah that showcased the importance of drawing as a foundation to making art.
Ruby Amanze (Fibers/Photography BFA ’04) is one of the artists featured in this show.
“‘Crossing the Line’ is a small survey of five women who have very different drawing practices. It’s also exciting because none of the artists have Western cultural background. We’re from Iran, Korea, Nigeria, Haiti/Dominican Republic and Mexico. Drawing has, and always will be universal and I think this exhibition touches on the idea,” Amanze said.
Although Amanze had a British upbringing, she was born in Nigeria. Recently, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to travel to Nigeria and create a new body of work. Four drawings she created while in Nigeria are featured in the show.
“For me, drawing is very much about process. Sometimes my drawings are very detail-oriented and even obsessive compulsive. I enjoy that way of working, but at the same time I enjoy the freedom of making quicker, smaller drawings that I never intend to show,” Amanze said. “It’s a new, and slightly scary, idea for me to give these drawings their respect, so to speak. They are as much a part of my practice as the more polished ones, and I think the conversation they have alongside each other is an interesting one.”
Amanze admits that drawing is something that truly consumes and fascinates her.
“If I think back I remember that drawing was always my first love as an artist, as perhaps it is for many people. I think along the way, someone decides for us whether or not we ‘can draw,’ and unfortunately that deters some from continuing the practice. Everyone can draw and there are so many different ways to approach it,” Amanze said.
“When I sit down to draw, there are so many components that play a part in what happens on the page. I am open to that and look forward to how my ideas will evolve the more I allow things to happen. I think there is a certain vulnerability to drawing that I appreciate. It often doesn’t have this grand polished veneer…it just is,” Amanze said.
For inspiration, Amanze draws from architecture and remembered spaces, migration, cultural hybridity, textiles, and patterning.
“I’ve also spent time researching various nomadic groups, bridges as a physical and metaphorical symbol of connection, ethnic markings/tattoos or gender politics as they relate to culture. These are just a few things that have inspired me over the years. But I can’t neglect the ever changing influence of time and location as they relate to the above. Just being somewhere, anywhere can play a direct role on one’s vision of the world. The lens through which we process our bodies in space an in relation to others in constantly changing,” Amanze said.
Amanze appreciates that Tyler gave her a formal art education while also encouraging her to experiment and challenge the “rules.”
“Tyler was a nice balance of that. I remember drawing with silver point on gesso, learning Vandyke printing in Photography and weaving on a floor loom…but I also remember having freedom later to disregard all of those things and really begin to discover my own visual language,” Amanze said.
Coming up, Amanze is curating and exhibiting in an exhibition called “Six Draughtsmen” that will open at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn in October. She is also preparing for a two person exhibition in Lagos, Nigeria with Wura-Natasha Ogunji. Outside of studio practice, Amanze is also teaching.
“Crossing the Line: Contemporary Drawing and Artistic Process” will be at Mixed Greens until August 16.
To learn more about Ruby Amanze and her work, visit http://rubyamanze.com/home