Words and works of Contemporary Artist Keith M Ramsey

Carren Clarke / RAMSEY Collaboration hits the VMFA!

It was a Thursday when I went to Carren Clarke’s Woodland Heights Studio on South Side RVA when I was asked to help create a piece for one of her mask to be mounted on. IMG_8225

It was cool enough to be asked to create something for her work, but when I found out she was being asked by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to display it, “No” was not an option.

Because this was Thursday, I only had until Sunday to come up with a concept, design around that concept and create the piece in my own style that would be in a prominent location.

The pressure was certainly high!

I’ve worked in collaboration with 3 other pieces from her, and because of this, I had a sense of what characteristics the work would take on. I also knew it had to work in direct concert with her painted mask AND the the practical purpose of the piece.

Designing was straight forward. Because it was to be a vessel to hold a floral arrangement, it needed to take on the appearance of a flower made from wood and metal.

After designing it… the first time, I realized it was becoming overly bulky and seemed to loose some of the harmonious aspects of what I was trying to accomplish, so I started a second time by completely redesigning the iron work and making the wooden container more narrow and streamlined.

This was a good choice, but it was Friday now and time was running short.

It was going to be delivered Monday morning and I didn’t want the finishes to be “off-gassing” while in the museum… so my deadline was Saturday night or Sunday Morning.

Working like a beast for the next several hours, I was able to complete the iron work, build the main structure of the container, cut and detail the decorative wood, design the base and color match the wood using stains, finishes, sandpaper and a torch.

The end result was a beautifully designed vessel that is currently on display at the VMFA in the main hall beside the ticket counter.


Another result of this venture is the knowledge that, under pressure, I can create a piece of art that fits a practical purpose with a style that’s been honed over the past several years…

and can fit in at one of the most artistic places in town.

Thanx for viewing




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