Briefly describe the work you do.
I form an idiosyncratic engagement with rule-based systems to make art.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I grew up in rural NY State and have moved back and forth between major cities and rural places all my life, including living on an island in the West Indies where my home did not have electricity. My current home in NYC gives me a view of the sunrise each morning. Being tuned into nature’s cycles and color changes are part of my daily observations. There’s order within the cycles and a spectrum of color change.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
The live/work space is ideal for me. My current studio and my home are within the same space, it allows for seamless flow between the two. I’m working, in the studio, nearly every day.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Bringing the artwork to a larger audience was something I never considered. To engage the work in a dialogue with peers and collectors is an important complement to my studio practice.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
Showing up to work on a regular schedule is the only way. If I want to add to that and put in extra time I do, but the regularity of my practice is crucial to moving the work forward.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
My work takes on more color now. I remain faithful to the generation of systems to execute the work.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
Artist colleagues have been supportive at the most opportune times. The work of Fred Sandback, Sol LeWitt, Dorothea Rockburne, Agnes Martin, Francois Morellet and the writing of Briony Fer inspire me daily.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I’ve raised a daughter, donkeys, sheep, chickens, dogs and cats. Each one has taught me so much. I am a gardener of vegetable and ornamental plants.
Debra Ramsay is an abstract artist working in the disciplines of painting, drawing and installation. She maintains a full time studio practice in New York City. Ramsay was awarded a 2016 residency at the Albers Foundation, a 2013 residency at the Golden Foundation in New Berlin, NY and in 2012 a fellowship at BAU Institute in Otranto, Italy. Ramsay’s 2015 exhibitions include a two-person show at TSA NY Gallery in Brooklyn and a group exhibition at Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. Her 2014 exhibitions included Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia in Chelsea, NYC and The Visual Arts Center of NJ, Summit, NJ. In 2013 she had a solo show titled MAT/tam, curated by Lucio Pozzi at Palazzo Costa, in Mantova, Italy
Writing about Ramsay’s work includes:
- Interview by Valerie Brennan, Studio Critical (Blog), December 16, 2014
- The Daily Beast, “Daily Pic” by Blake Gopnik, October 3, 2013
- Structure and Imagery Blog, “A Subtle Marking Of Time and Distance,” September 15, 2013.
A video interview describing the Landscape As Time project:
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.