Holly D. Gray
From the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Holly D. Gray grew up in a small town just outside of Fort Worth. She spent much of her early years practicing the piano, mothering anything that conceded, and making sure to always color in the lines. Gray’s artistic practice is focused on repetitive female labor both emotional and physical, and social commentary stemming from being the primary caregiver to a child who has multiple disabilities. Her work explores the meaning and social conventions of gendered assumptions, the act of time, and what it is to be a person living as other in our modern world.
Currently residing in Arlington, Texas, Gray has a B.F.A. in photography (2006) from The University of Texas at Arlington and in 2019 she completed her M.F.A. at The University of Texas at Arlington , a multi-discipline program. She is a visiting artist for the Gallery and Studio Connections program at The Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Gray is a recipient of the McDowell Center Innovative Project Award for Visual Artists and the NAPP Photoshop World Travel Award. She has exhibited solo and group shows nationally, most recently her solo exhibition at the Umbrella Gallery in Dallas, Texas.
Light in Nurture
The role of caregiver, predominately assumed by women, is the inspiration and basis for my artistic practice. While creating my newest works, I was considering my role as a female caregiver and what that means to me personally, but also what that might look like for the mothers of medically fragile children that happen to be similar to myself. With this identity, I was absorbed in the daily labor both physical and emotional for these women.
Within my practice, I tend to collect objects over a measured and set amount of time, and I enjoy giving myself specific time restrictions. The subject matter of my work is the daily detritus or waste material that comes with the life of a medically fragile child. The female caregivers, mothers in most cases, fight for these supplies on numerous levels and use this material in hopes that it will be part of the puzzle to keep their child alive one more day. Without these mundane daily rituals, their children and mine would not survive. And with this subject, I’m left to think about the moment to moment that ends up being a tremendous weight in this type of caregiving. The materials that I use are rooted in the daily care for children with multiple disabilities. By using photography as a material to transform what would be considered in most cases trash; I’m able to document a moment in time that is fleeting for the families involved.
There is an elegance in this type of caregiving that most don’t see. There’s a light in its brokenness. After all, this is a parent and child relationship. The images of L ight in Nurture reference the collection of source material in a unique way. My intent with these images is to add a beauty to the perceived brokenness. Society and politics often view disability as a tragedy or a drain on resources. A life lived atypically is often related to strain and stress, but there is a calmness, strength, grace, and resilience that comes from this community of women. For myself, I’ve had the same routine for eleven years with my daughter, so the daily practice of this core group of women is fiercely important to my artwork.