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Meet Penelope Ross

Today we’d like to introduce you to Penelope Ross.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I began making art during a trying time in mid-life. I had recently lost my father and mother when my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Shortly after his passing, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was raising three children and found I needed an emotional outlet and a way to identify as something else besides “caregiver”or “patient.”

I enrolled in painting, drawing and art history classes at the Glassell School. It was a wonderful way to distract myself from my troubles and allow my creative side to flourish. I re-enrolled every semester for a number of years and was finally accepted into the “Block Studio” program for advanced students. During that two-year program, I met with professionals from the local art community who helped me examine the content and processes I used in my work. I found that working with textiles inspired me to think about and tell my story in a different and deeper way.

Please tell us about your art.
My current work examines the extreme limits of material. My pieces often push textiles past the point of destruction by use of tension and laceration, to reveal a delicate beauty. I am presently working with pantyhose, acrylic paint, dye and wire.

Ripped to the point of desintigration, the nylon still holds a fragile form, revealing an etherial but elaborate webbing. I pull, push and pin this fabric directly to the wall or to a support. I make both 2d and 3d work, the latter creating voluminous shapes that are both geometric and curvilinear.

The resulting forms are a metaphor for women — especially mid-life women — who can be stretched and twisted beyond the imaginable and somehow maintain some kind of integrity. The joys and hardships associated with female middle-age can be staggering, often more so for women than men. As child-bearer and rearer, caretaker of the elderly, nurturer and death-bed perennial, our job is enormous. My work is inspired by my own struggles and is a tribute to so many others who attempt to provide family stability during the challenges of middle age.

As an artist, how do you define success and what quality or characteristic do you feel is essential to success as an artist?
I think that depends on how you define “success.” For me, it is more than being able to market and sell my work. My definition would include loving the work the work you do, even if it is not financially successful. Working hard and consistently, allowing yourself the time/space to explore and “play” with your process in order to evolve seems crucial to the definition. Always learning and exposing yourself to new things so that you grow as a person and as an artist is important as well. These seem like successful artist practices to me.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I am not represented by a gallery, but I exhibit my work often in shows. I currently have two pieces in local shows: one in the “Come Together” show of collaborative work at Winter Street Studios (2101 Winter Street, Houston, 77007) and one at the “Real/Surreal” show at The Silos at Sawyer Yards (1502 Sawyer Street, Houston, 77007). I post recent work on my Instagram account “Penelope Ross Art,” and on my website, “PenelopeRoss.com.”

Contact Info:

  • Website: PenelopeRoss.com
  • Email: pcwross@gmail.com
  • Instagram: Penelope Ross Artist

Image Credit:
Martin Holmes, Will Michels, Rick Wells.

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