Earth Muse

Posted by: Stephanie Grant

The eldest of three, Stephanie was born into privilege in the Bronx. Her father was a major mover and shaker in the broadcasting world, making millions during the course of his early career. Growing up she never had to worry about the basics of existence. As a child she lived in New Jersey before settling in Miami when her parents divorced. She is the embodiment of a spiritual, earthy artist. She is also a highly principled woman, one who believes in fidelity and what is right and fair and equitable. That is why the physical earth is her natural source of inspiration. The corporal components of the earth are purely integral, uncompromising and simple in their existence. She draws from the physical planet, literally from the elements of fire, earth, air and water.

Stephanie has a BFA in Jewelry and Metalwork from Florida International University in Miami, and a MFA in Museum Exhibition Planning and Design from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Ever looking to express her connection to her world through art, Stephanie has produced works that are vast and eclectic with several mediums, including metals, clay, paint, ceramics, photographs and paper, and has produced all manners of art such as jewelry, paintings, sculptures, mosaics, and public art installations. “My mission is to creatively marry realism with abstraction in my art.” Her process of making art speaks to how she thinks and how she processes what is happening in her world; “I use art to express how small, scattered, variant and often broken pieces can come together into one cohesive, unique and beautiful entity, just like life.”

And such is her life. If there are two things that Stephanie has always wanted most in life they are true, faithful, and enduring romantic love and the prolific production of art. One does not supersede the other. They are each autonomous in their importance, and in her best life they would exist together harmoniously. To that end, now in her mid-40’s, these things have eluded her. And that is why it is ironic that at this stage of her life the art would take precedence, for at least it would help her to process and gain enlightenment from her hurt.

While living in Philadelphia in the early 90’s she met a man and had his daughter. She married the man from Ivory Coast, and in quick succession gave birth to two more baby girls. To support her husband’s ambitions, and ergo her family, she moved to Florida. Soon after the marriage fell apart, he moved back to Philadelphia, and she was left to care for three small children on her own. There were extreme hardships, ones that she never encountered in childhood. And she prevailed, raising those babies and even finding the courage to open her heart up again to love. In the meanwhile, making art, though so critically vital, had slipped down the list of priorities. She began teaching art to make a way for them.

This time she fell in love with a man across the ocean, living in Karlsruhe. The worldwide web made this connection possible, and she felt it was true. For him she had her baby boy, and shortly after he was born she moved him and her three girls to Germany. She took the ultimate gamble on the chance that the love would be true and endure this time. It didn’t. After a year she left Germany, moved to South Africa for a time, and then returned to Atlanta, Georgia with her multi-ethnic family in tow. Now a mother of four, once again being solely responsible for them, she returned to teaching. And valiantly, she attempted to return to the process of producing art. Notably, she took on the very ambitious task of competing for and winning commissions for public installations for Art on the Atlanta Beltline, an exhibition that is held in Metro Atlanta every year. At the conclusion of 2016 she knew now was the time, with the three girls out of the house and only the pre-pubescent boy remaining. Stephanie resigned from her position as a high school art teacher and made the courageous leap to do what she knows she was put on this earth to do.

And then fate stepped in. At the beginning of 2017 one of her young adult daughters gave birth to a girl. And that daughter is unable to care for the baby. And so circumstances, and the essence of who she is, has placed Stephanie in a situation where she must accept responsibility for the care and nurturance of a human being she was not prepared for. So now, juggling three different part time jobs, dealing with worrying health concerns, and struggling with the financial, moral and ethical dilemmas of taking care of a grandchild, once again she has been robbed of the energy and will to create art.

That is one perspective.

“As a visual artist I am influenced by nature. It is omnipresent, no matter where you live or where life may take you. It is stunning in its variety, from oceans to deserts, always providing a sense of wonder and appreciation for anyone willing to open their eyes and take it all in.”
Another perspective could be that her children, and now her granddaughter, are the personification of her art. These five humans, in their entirely unique manifestations, are the seeds of her artistic sensibilities and humanity. In fact they are literal artistic creations. Though one child does struggle with living a positive and productive life, through her came this baby who is a blessing. And so – looking forward to 2018, Stephanie faces a time of decision.

“For me identification with the natural world goes beyond respect. It is more about a sense of oneness, concordance, and continuity. I feel a kinship with nature and find comfort in its unbroken harmony and beauty, even when it has been defiled or destroyed. Nature remains pure and true, constant and steady. My connection to the natural world – God’s work – is a theme found throughout my body of work. Nature is indeed the key to helping me creatively express my individual spirituality. It sustains me through the joys and perils of life.”

In her own way she is doing God’s work. It just now remains to be seen if she will survive and thrive or crash and burn. If the past is any indication, and taking into account what she is made of, the best and most beautiful works of art are yet to come.

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