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Grace Bass promotes stewardship of the earth through art

Flowers and oil paint were an escape for Grace Bass, and now, they are a culmination of her four years of work in John Brown University’s Visual Arts program.

Bass, senior art and illustration major with an emphasis in fine arts, will be opening her senior gallery, ‘The Earth Laughs” with a reception on Thursday, March 28 in Windgate Visual Arts East.

Bass based the title of her gallery off of a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The earth laughs in flowers.” She hopes that her pieces inspire viewers to be stewards of God’s creation. “Those things are very compatible, being a Christian and also caring about the environment … A very big part of God is beauty and his want for us to be stewards with what he’s given us,” Bass said. “It’s that joy that I want people to take away. When they see flowers in their natural environment, it’s that reminder of joy in nature.”

In coming up with an idea for her show, Bass remembered discovering her personal passion for art in her family of creatives. “After school, I would go paint for at least an hour or two. It was therapeutic in a way. It was a nice way to release and be on my own,” Bass said. “I’m very introverted so I had a big group of friends that I would be with all day … and my family is really big, too, so that one time I was alone, just doing what I wanted. My teacher always had these still life set-ups, one of them was flowers, so I loved to go and paint flowers.”

While flowers brought her joy, oil paints presented Bass with a serious challenge when she first began working with the medium this past fall semester. “I actually did not like it for a while at first. I had a really hard time and then I started working a lot bigger and that worked a lot easier for me,” Bass said. “I like working larger and larger rather than small. It’s just kind of a medium that you have to get used to and learn all the little quirks and different ways.”

“It’s really hard because a lot of students going in … haven’t had an idea of oil. They’ve worked in acrylic,” Bass said. “That was in my case and it dries really quickly and also if you put down a color and you don’t like it, it’s easy to cover up, but with oil, that’s not really the case. It stays wet for a long time and the more you mix, the muddier it gets, whereas with acrylic, you’re still keeping really nice fresh colors the more you mix.”

During her oil painting class with Peter Pohle, professor of visual arts, Bass worked with Sara Hall, junior art and illustration major with an emphasis in fine arts. “Grace and I became friends after being in many classes together, including oil painting, and I have seen her working hard in the art barn for months. Every time I would come to say hi, she would be working on a new, amazing painting,” Hall said.

Hall is inspired by Bass’s work and hopes that viewers see the passion in her friend’s work. “I hope people see the beauty of nature and all the variety that God has created. There are so many breathtaking things to see on the earth, and Grace has really captured many of them,” Hall said. “I love how daring Grace was in making her pieces colorful and bold … I love how she stepped outside of her comfort zone and worked on large canvases which in turn made a striking, powerful body of work.”

When seeing her work, Bass hopes that everyone is able to appreciate God’s creation. “I hope that my pieces really inspire the emotion of joy and just that idea of beauty. That’s really important when we’re looking at nature, especially looking at what God has created, finding that beauty.”

The gallery reception is free to the public and the paintings will be on view from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. until Friday, April 12.