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Life & Work with Carson Ferri-Grant

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carson Ferri-Grant.

Hi Carson, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
“Carson Ferri-Grant, an American actor and artist from the USA, has followed his artistic instincts to accomplish a lifetime of Arts” has been my slate. My early years in Rhode Island and Massachusetts with their ocean weather patterns, along the New England coastline, meadows, and forests, have helped shape my vision and emotional projections; a direct influence on my fluid brush strokes. My dedication to social issues and environmental conservation merged with my passions as a creative visual artist and theatrical thespian, cast a series of events throughout the five decades in NYC. Close to my 7th decade in 2019, wanting to experience living on the western coast, I packed and drove a twenty-two-foot Penske truck cross-country to settle in LA.

The California energies have opened new visual pathways for me to interpret. When analyzing my creative process, I first question our human and environment conditions, dream the imagery, then manipulate the mediums to produce a visual art piece. With my artwork, I seek to involve my audience in a sensational brain tease of activities, intellectually challenging and emotionally nourishing their souls. My artistic mediums ranged from oils to acrylics, sketches to silkscreens, sculptures to installations, computer graphics and still photography to film. Two of my oil painting series celebrating our oceans will be exhibited at the LA Art Show 2023.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
A lifetime creating in the visual and entertainment fields brings some basic challenges to even the strongest of heart and mind. In New York City, this artist needed survival skills. I drove a taxi, the night shift in the early seventies, while attending method acting class with Lee Strasberg, and singing with my coach Wally Harper. Trained at Vidal Sassoon, then a summer with Santa Fe Opera and Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center 1971, my second survival gig was cutting hair which helped sponsor my class work and living expenses. My hair-cutting clients were internationally famous: opera singers as Frederica Von Stade, Kiri Te Kanawa and Donald Gramm, music composers as Samuel Barber and John Corigliano, CEO producers as Goddard Lieberson, John Crosby and Robert Stigwood, choreographer Jerome Robbins; and even the Bee Gees with their famous white silk outfits for the Saturday Night Fever album. Having access to the City’s culture in the 70s, filled with creative people expressing new ideas and rhythms, taught me great insights.

The seventies brought social awareness of pollution, our environment, and nuclear waste contamination. For two summers, I backpacked most of the northern USA photographing damaged natural reserves. After marchingwith the Sioux Indian in South Dakota as part of the “No-Nukes” concert tour MUSE 1979. I returned that summer to NYC to create a one-man exhibition, “Nature-Nuclear” 1979. At Victor Parker’s Jack Morris Gallery, my installation provoked quite a stir when I constructed a large climb-up-into ‘scarred Mother Earth Uterus – post nuclear’ with her next distorted generation traveling down her maimed fallopian tubes into her contaminated womb (30′ x 40′), which encouraged my audience to consideration the use of alternative energy sources to protect our environment for our children, and their children’s future generation. (Times: 11-30-79)

During this decade of Art Movement, I helped establish the Westside Arts Coalition with a group of multi-discipline Upper West Side artists at Symphony Space to open opportunities for exhibition spaces and affordable arts studios. As a fixture on the NYC art scene since the early 1970s, I expressed my visual perspective through paintings, photography and installations exhibited in alternative spaces and galleries. I helped organize, curate, and contribute artwork to a number of NYC causes and art groups as Charas PS64 – El Bohio, ABC No Rio, Colab, Westside Arts Coalition, RIVVA; and other smaller groups throughout the five boroughs of NYC. In 1981, I established an award-winning not-for-profit organization, Environmental Artists United (EAU), sponsored by “Avon Foundation” and “America the Beautiful Fund”, which promotes art educational exhibits focusing on environmental conservation. I challenged the status quo with co-artist friends as: Keith Haring, Tom Otterness, Kenny Scharf, Jean Michel Basquiat, Rhonda Zwillinger, Mike Bidlo, Tom Klem, John Matos-Crash, Mark Kostabi, Timothy Rollins, amongst many others. Leo Castelli recognized my installation of living sand sculptures ‘Coney Island Bathing Beauties’ installed at “The Coney Island Art Show” 1981 and joked with
me ‘how can he sell this type of art’, and my triptych ‘In Life Turmoil’ part of the famed “Time Square Show” 1980. Some of the public mural installations I
created were ‘Hands across America’ Riverside Park, NYC 1986; ‘Harmony Mountain’, SIGGRAPH, Dallas, TX 1990; ‘Muddy Cove’ Buzz Bay Estuary, Cape Cod MA 2010; ‘Lighthouse Park Sunrise, the day before Sandy’, RIVVA, Roosevelt Island NYC 2015.

Curious to explore new frontiers of painting with computer software in the late 80s, I studied computer graphics at Pratt University. Whereupon I was hired by pioneer companies as Fusion, Carabiner, Exhibit Technology, Ayer Advertising and Ogilvy & Mather creating the new digital technology templates, with projects for companies as Intel, Microsoft, National Geographic, Kodak, and Philips Corporation, inventor of CD-DVD technology. In 1988 I discussed with AT&T-TrueVision developers about the need for more than an 8-bit color system, adding shades of grey and translucency to their graphic software ‘Tips” contributing to their 16-bit and 32-bit 255 color system and 8-bit alpha channel. I created one of the first digital animation for the Sony’s Time Square VideoOne JumbaTron Screen affixed to the top of One Times Square building for the Ayer Advertising campaign “Breakthrough with the Unexpected” an animation of an egg cracking to release a butterfly, covered by AdWeek 1991. In 2011 I curated an exhibition of fifty multi-platform artists for the “Tenth Anniversary of 9.11” ‘Fall, Rising Above’ at the Broadway 96th Street Gallery, celebrating the artists’ thoughts and feelings of NYC’s most tragic event. By the Millennium, I had digitally designed for commercials, stage presentations, and the internet. After decades of creating within the computer, I have returned to a more tactile satisfying method of brush to canvas, chisel to stone, and hand to
clay.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am proud my NYC decades were filled with creating art, drama, and proactive energies for social issues such as AIDS, women’s rights, the homeless, rent strikes, preservation of landmarks, environmental conservation, and establishing public gardens as the Upper Westside Community Garden and Riverside Park Promenade Gardens. With my longevity intact, my Sagittarian fire and arrows are still sharp; my personal mantra has become “Why, Why Not”. “The Arts transcend all cultural barriers, hopefully offering an avenue where all people can find a common place to meet, understand each other, and nurture a safe world for all our children to grow strong within.” Carson Ferri-Grant LA Art Show 2023 will exhibit two of my oil painting series, ‘Swim’ and ‘Splash’ celebrating our oceans. Booth 1347 February 15-19, 2023, and auctioned on eBay.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
When I was twelve years old, my grammar schoolteacher, observing my creativity for some years, recommended to my parents I take drawing and painting classes on Saturday at Rhode Island School of Design, an hour by bus ride to Providence from my home. The RISD teachers open the doors of artistic exploration without judgment. Teachers are the heroes, patiently nurturing
and encouraging us to find our potential. Throughout my life I have sought to develop my multiple interests and the educators were my trusted anchors of support.

With my wisdom gained over time, I will share some nurturing thoughts to inspire all artists. Keeping one’s positive hopes and imagination flowing throughout one’s journey, which will be tested by negative times and fueled to unbelievable heights in the elated moments. Success is best measured with each step forward, as feathers in one’s proverbial hat of accomplishments, and each
step back which reinforces one’s commitment to one’s goals. Stay current, connected to your diverse, unique perspective, and be inclusive with yourself first, then with others who appreciate creativity.

Pricing:

  • Oil Paintings range from 5k to 50 k
  • Acrylic Paintings range from 2K-20K

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Carson Ferri-Grant (headshot) Photographer: Stephen Linsley Artwork photographed and photoshop assembled by Carson Ferri-Grant

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