In my work, I use vibrant colors and an alphabet of geometric and organic shapes to depict happy memories of my childhood. My process begins in CAD software, such as SketchUp and Adobe Illustrator, where I am able to continuously create and build upon interacting rectilinear and organic objects that become part of a large and intricate structure. Working primarily with gouache, watercolor, and spray paint on laser cut birch panel, medium density fiberboard, and heavyweight paper, I create ambiguous shapes that reference 90’s patterns, toys, video games, and computer graphics.
There were specific defining moments in my childhood involving technology, like using a computer for the first time, or getting a Sega Dreamcast, that shaped my interests and influences, and technology has now infiltrated my creative process. By incorporating digital process and references to cartoons and video games, I am paying homage to the developments in technology of the 90’s. Using SketchUp and Illustrator to create these shapes, I can control aspects such as scale, transparency, and color. Once the shapes are laser cut, I arrange them like puzzle pieces until I have created a composition that is reminiscent of the places and objects that filled my childhood with color and appeal.
To me these compositions are familiar, inviting, and friendly, and remind me of the objects I enjoyed while growing up. I am inspired by children’s toys that were popular in the 90’s, such as Lisa Frank and Polly Pocket dolls, and by TV shows I watched as a young girl, such as Powerpuff Girls and Saved By The Bell, and I use my process as an outlet for childhood wonder and creativity. From start to finish, I feel as though I am a child playing pretend.
Betsey Gravatt received her BFA in Studio Art, with a concentration in Drawing and Painting, from the University of North Texas in 2015. She is currently in her third year at Texas Woman’s University, pursuing an MFA in Painting and a minor in Intermedia. Gravatt's work has received several awards, including the Cindi and Mike Holt Award (2015), the Annual Voertman's Award (2015), and John Weinkein Distinction in the Visual Arts Awards (2017 & 2018).
Betsey currently monitors the Digital Craft Studio at TWU, and has taught Watercolor and Basic Drawing. In recent years, she has given Professional Practices lectures at high schools in the North Texas area, and has been an artist in residence in New York, North Carolina, and California. Her upcoming projects include exhibitions in Denton and Dallas, Texas.