Deborah Grayson: Salt Eaters
August 23-October 22, 2023
Common Ground Gallery
Using vernacular, ethnographic, and medical photographs from the early 20th century as source material, Deborah Grayson examines historical archives to trace Black women’s life stories. Moving between figuration and abstraction, the historical and the intergalactic, the spiritual and the profane, Grayson uses printmaking to re-animate the rich but neglected stories of Black women’s lives.
In her work, Grayson builds an archive of images and artifacts that situate Black women in the past, present, and future. Ink, graphite, wood and paper are among the tools she finds useful to do this creative and documentary work. The detailed work of carving, etching, and drawing mixed with the variety of ways she presents color, volume, tone, and texture allow Grayson to contribute to the cultural production among artists and thinkers interested in creating an archival imaginary – an imagination of the future that is conceived through what was possible in the past – to envision a future that is not violently annotated or redacted.
Following Caswell and others, rather than just “documenting a more diverse past based on identities of the present,” Grayson’s work focuses on connecting the untold or misinterpreted stories of Black women’s histories to imagine different trajectories for the future.
About the Artist
Deborah Grayson is a Washington, DC-based fine art printmaker and painter. She uses diaries along with vernacular, ethnographic, and medical photographs from the late 19th and early 20th century as source material for building archival imaginaries to conjure different ways of telling the rich stories of Black women’s interior lives. For Grayson, ink, graphite, wood, and paper are among the tools she finds useful to share Black women’s life stories. She does this with the intent to honor the legacies of the women who came before her.
Born in Washington, DC and raised in Montgomery County, MD, Grayson completed a BA at the University of Maryland, College Park and an MA and PhD at Michigan State University. In addition to her studio practice, Grayson is an independent scholar, workshop facilitator, and teacher. She has exhibited in galleries and art spaces throughout the US and her work is held in several private collections
Image: Deborah Grayson, Unfurling, 2021