April Featured Artist Spotlight + Interview | Faith Gruver

We are pleased to spotlight Faith Gruver our April Featured Artist

540Gallery will showcase Faith’s art exhibit Maps: Preserving The History of Braids As Maps to Freedom

Saturday April 13th | 11-2 PM

About Faith Gruver 

Faith Gruver is best known for a style that brings classical art into the modern era, with a passion for creating images that celebrate diversity. With settings inspired by Impressionism, accented by figures reminiscent of the Renaissance, she specializes in acrylic painting with experiments in gouache and digital mediums. Raised in Rochester surrounded by a history of strong female role models, Faith seeks to empower women of all cultures through her work. Upon completion of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2018, Faith continues to expand the realm of representation in the artistic world.

When did you start your career as an artist?

FG: It was on a kindergarten class field trip to the Memorial Art Gallery that I began to realize that there were others in this world that felt the same magnetic pull of art. I never searched for my “calling”, creating has always been a part of me that guided my studies in Illustration at the Rochester Institute of Technology in my hometown of Rochester, New York. After completing my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration, I have focused my career in editorial illustrations, as well as children’s book art. The power of imagery that reflects underrepresented groups of people motivates much of my subject matter, as can be seen in my body of work.

Where did you get the inspiration for your work?

FG: As I grew older and began my collegiate studies, I noticed a subconscious trend in the work of myself and my peers. Much of our figurative work featured characters of European heritage. Having been raised by an empowering mother, I realized that I had failed to support people on a larger spectrum of cultures through my work. Seeking to redirect the subject of my work, I began to paint women of all cultural backgrounds. The response from my classmates was positive, yet I found it disappointing that in these modern times painting a diverse group of people has not become common practice. The national conversation Americans have revisited in regard to the lack of equality in our society has encouraged me to proceed down this path. Diversity is a wonderful start, but at this point in our history we have the capacity to do more than just paint inclusively. The images artists create have the power and responsibility to convey narratives and communicate stories for our audiences to learn from. The diverse group of characters in my work have their own nuanced stories to tell. As an artist I am determined to create an empowering space for young people of all cultures and heritages to learn and feel heard through images that serve as reflections of themselves. I am a firm believer in learning from one another is not limited to the classroom, and that as an artist I can contribute the power of imagery to spread love and acceptance.

What makes you want to be an artist?

FG: For myself and many others, creating is a natural form of personal expression that flows out of us. I became an artist because it was part of my identity throughout my entire life. There are highs and lows, self-doubt and fear, but it is our ability to rise above these emotions that determines our path.

For you how does art relate to wellness?

FG: At times art is therapeutic in a meditative sense, and brings peace to the mind. However, when a piece isn’t going well or taking longer than expected, it can be really frustrating. Art challenges me to practice patience and mental toughness in adversity.

How do you stay healthy as a creative?
FG: At RIT I ran cross country and track, which gave me an amazing group of women to grow with as a person, and to grow physically stronger with. After graduation it can be difficult to find time to exercise with the chaos of everyday life and building a career. Now I practice healthy living by going for walks or jogging after a long painting day. Recently I’ve begun to meditate and have been pleasantly surprised by how great I feel after. On weekends hiking a new trail is one of my favorite ways to exercise. Any chance I get to go outside and enjoy nature is my favorite way to stay healthy.

What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of your career?

FG: The most challenging aspect of my career so far is staying positive. I am so grateful for how much progress I’ve made, and it’s easy to lose sight of how much you have already accomplished. As an athlete I am highly goal driven and internally motivated. However, we were taught as runners to never be satisfied with our times in races, and to always push ourselves to be faster. This has been an integral part of my success as an artist thus far, and I will always want to push myself to become the best I can be. Yet, as humans we have limits, and we need to remember to feel joy. Life is short, and remembering why we love what we do is part of stoking the fires of inspiration. I have so many incredible people in my life that remind me to pause for a breath, and appreciate where I am in this moment.

When you aren’t painting/drawing/photographing what are you doing?

FB: When I’m not painting I’m usually thinking about painting. I spend a lot of time outside and with the people that I love.

What is it that inspires you to keep going as professional artist?

FB :I am inspired to keep going for that little girl inside of me that always wanted to be an artist. I had a professor in college that told us to think of our 5 year old selves when we feel deflated and tired. That little 5 year old Faith dreams of becoming the artist I am now, and I owe it to her to keep moving forward.

What are you working on now?

FB: Right now I am working on a children’s book! It’s an educational adventure story, and hopefully I will finish it soon and begin the process of becoming a published illustrator!

What’s has been your best experience so far as an artist?

FB: The best experience so far as an artist has been seeing the joy that my art brings to others.

What advice do you have for others interested in pursuing as career in art?

FB: Work really hard, every day. Looking for opportunities is something that you have to do on your own, through networking and the internet. Creating timelines and keeping a goal driven calendar are vital to sustaining your own business.

Connect with Faith

Published by Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a non-profit online and community-based organization for accessible education and events that promote justice for all.

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