End of Year Campaign Artist Spotlight: Kristen Ramirez

Published: October 30, 2019

Categories: Artists | Fall Campaign | Featured

Persistence has always been a quality among artists. In spite of adversity, opposition, and limited resources, artists have remained persistent in their work, creativity, and innovation. Bravery, patience, stamina, pluck – the act of persistence looks different for every individual but remains essential throughout the journey of any artist.

Persistence: What does persistence mean to an artist? What do they need to be able to persist? What level of support meets those needs? Those are the questions we’re asking Artist Trust artists throughout our fall campaign.

We spoke with Kristen Ramirez, a multidisciplinary artist, and a 2019 Artist Trust Fellowship Award recipient about her path with Artist Trust, and what persistence looks like for her.

“I learned about Artist Trust shortly after moving to Seattle and applied for a GAP award, which I was elated to receive. Coming from the Bay Area, I was naive about just how rich Seattle’s art ecosystem is and how many art opportunities existed. Artist Trust dropped into my radar right away.

Artist Trust is yet another example of the support systems available to artists carving out their uncharted and (typically) unfunded paths. I’ve certainly been buoyed by the financial support Artist Trust has given me on many occasions. I’ve been the exuberant and grateful recipient of two GAP awards and this year, an Artist Trust Fellowship. These rewards have come at instrumental times where the funding enabled new ideas and projects to move forward. But more than the financial support, there is a sense of profound legitimacy and confidence that comes with these rewards. The work of being an artist is often done in a solitary fashion, working out ideas and curiosities with no intrinsic reward or guaranteed resonance with anyone outside of your head or studio. To be acknowledged by the Artist Trust community is to feel seen and validated.

Persistence means continuing to make work for a public that may or may not exist. Persistence means making work that may never translate to a financial reward. It means working for the sake of work because it feeds you in some deeper way. Time and money are always the constant and evasive needs. Funding helps pay for many things: a long-sought-after projector, time in the studio, travel to a residency, and a buffer against the other things that make competing demands on my bank account. And especially, the legitimacy and validation I feel in light of an Artist Trust or other community/organization award refills my sails and gives me a renewed energy to keep working.

Artists can sometimes be just one project away from calling it quits. A small grant could be the single thing that keeps them going. Without the work of artists, our world would be terribly bland, beige and certainly less meaningful.”

Where can you see Kristen’s work next?

“My son is 11 years old and an artist who shows much more potential than I ever did at his age. We’ve been having collaborative shows over the last few years and will be in a group exhibition at SOIL in May 2020 that features the work of mothers riding the tight line that is working, mothering, and art-making.”

Kristen Ramirez is both a studio artist who makes discrete works and a public artist who toggles between commissions and socially engaged practices. Ramirez has a professional career in education and arts administration, championing aspiring artists and established artists alike. Ramirez taught in San Francisco’s public schools before moving to Seattle, where she has since taught at the University of Washington, Edmonds Community College, Pratt Fine Arts Center, Path with Art, and Cornish College of the Arts. She currently manages public art projects for the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture and Seattle’s Department of Transportation (SDOT). Ramirez has received numerous awards, including Individual Artist Awards from 4Culture, an Artist Trust Fellowship Award, two Artist Trust GAP grants, two Public Art Network Year-in-Review Awards.