Rise of the Texan Rose

Betsey Gravatt interview

by Javier Melian, Chrom-Art.org co-founder

Betsey Gravatt is not just emerging, she is sky rocketing. She is about to graduate with honours for her Arts degree at the University of North Texas, having already won a number of prestigious prizes. Last spring she had her first solo show and has now been invited to show her work in New York. This young southern belle is blossoming in the arts world, and we will support her all the way through. Go Betsey!

Betsey grew up primarily in rural areas of Texas and North Carolina, and often went camping and hiking with her dad, which gave her a deep love for the outdoors. She had a really happy childhood full of exploration, which she now tries to convey in her paintings. She moved to Denton TX to study art at the University of North Texas in 2011, and although at first she was not used to large towns with so many people, she have loved being a part of the unique and artistic environment. She recently became preschool teacher, which she loves, because she thinks it is important that children are provided with a fun and educational environment in which they can be creative.

Her works tackle the varying degrees of interaction between the natural world and the man made world, and how people adapt to life in these different environments. In her paintings and sculptures, she creates another reality that leaves room for exploration for herself and for the viewers, putting emphasis on experimentation in many of her pieces. The juxtaposition between natural and man made is shown by the use of organic and linear forms. Through the interaction of these forms, she depicts the relationships between environments in the real world.


Betsey's interest in nature comes from her childhood. The rural environments she grew up in shaped how she views the world and fuelled her fascination with the differing ways of life in urban and rural areas. Identity is extremely important aspect of her body of work. 

"My own identity is a huge factor in the creation of my pieces, and I believe the viewer’s identities and life experiences help shape their interpretations of my work."

Betsey depicts her ideas non representationally through colour, shape, and line. She tends to use over the top, bright colours that are associated with happy, playful memories. Her intentions are exploratory rather than didactic, and a main goal for her is to create paintings that are as spatially ambiguous as they are bright and inviting. 

Getting into the Drawing and Painting program at the University of North Texas was a huge turning point for Betsey, and she will graduate with honours from UNT this December. Recently her work has been included in shows such as "Art in the Metroplex" at the Fort Worth Community Art Center, where she received the Cindi and Mike Holt Award. At the "Voertman's Competition" she received the 55th Annual Voertman's Award.This past spring she had my first solo show at UNT, and was recently invited to show a few pieces at Upstream Gallery in New York.

She is learning fast, she is going from strength to strength. She is upbeat, optimistic, motivated. We love her art and we hope you love it too.

How and when did you realise you were an artist?

I took my first art class in school when I was 6 and decided right then that what I wanted to do was paint.

Did anyone specially encourage you to become one?

I don't remember anyone specifically encouraging me to become an artist as a child, but my parents were always extremely supportive and allowed me to pursue what I loved. In college, my most influential and encouraging professor has been Adam Palmer. He has really pushed me in developing my artistic style.

How would you describe your style?

My style is still evolving as I learn, but I love to work non-representationally in really bright colors. I'm a pretty reserved person, but I think the bright colors describe how I feel inside. I like the juxtaposition between harsh geometric shapes and organic lines, and exploring the relationships the two can have.

Is there a message in your art? What is it?

Each piece has a specific meaning to me, or a certain memory that I associate with the piece, but it is not crucial to me that the viewers pick up on it or comprehend that meaning. My identity is so important in the creation of my pieces, so I think it is important that the viewers' identities will have an impact on how they see or interpret my work.

    When I am working on a painting, I think about aspects of my childhood that were important to me, like the rural areas I grew up in, or the toys I played with, or certain friends I had. I would like for my viewers to apply their own lives and experiences to my pieces.

Where do you work? What's your studio like?

I have converted my living room into a studio, and I feel most comfortable working there. I keep at least five or six of my pieces on my walls at a time and work on them all simultaneously, and I keep a lot of books that I can reference and get inspired by. Its also very convenient to have my workspace and all of my supplies in my own home.

What would be your dream collaboration?

There are so many artists that I am inspired by, and I would be honored to collaborate with any of them. I would love to meet and work with Wayne Coyne, who I think is so creative and has so many ideas. Kristen Lui-Wong, Mark Whalen, and Louise Zhang are just a few of the artists who are incredibly inspirational to me, and I would love to work with them as well.

What other media would you like to explore in the future?

This past year, I started making small clay sculptures of certain elements in my paintings. I would like to continue exploring sculpture and discovering different materials to work with. I also recently took a ceramics class and fell in love with the process and the medium. It would be great to eventually have my own wheel and kiln in my studio.

In your opinion, what are the best ways for organisations like us to support artists?

I think its great that you feature emerging artists from around the world in your blog. I love reading the interviews on your site and discovering new people that I would have never known about otherwise. 

Your art is inspired by nature and its interaction with the manmade world. What is the role art plays or could play in bringing environmental awareness?

My art pertains more to my childhood memories and my observations of the differences between urban and rural life, however, I know that art can play a huge role in raising awareness about political or environmental issues. If my art influences anyone to be more environmentally conscious, I think that would be great.

What are your dreams?

In the long term, I would love to have work featured in exhibitions all over the United States, and even international exhibitions. I also plan to go to graduate school in about a year to continue studying and to make my work wiser.


Further Information on the Artist´s work on    www.betseygravatt.com

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Papa George (Saturday, 20 June 2015 20:01)

    What a magnificent display of talent & an awe inspiring interview that truly comes from the heart & soul. We love everything that you do. It truly touches our spirits & gives us a great sense of pride. All our love. George & sue