Artist Profile: Emma Gray

Burned+Tree%2C+Emma+Gray.+Media%3A+paper%2C+tape%2C+air-dry+clay%2C+acrylic+paint

Burned Tree, Emma Gray. Media: paper, tape, air-dry clay, acrylic paint

Emma Gray is a senior at Northwest who has been taking art for two years: photography her sophomore year and AP 3D art her senior year. 

Her art is heavily influenced by climate change, the animal hospital where she works and environmentalism in general. “My essential question is ‘How do people affect animals and nature?’” Gray said when asked about her AP art portfolio. “I usually… pick an idea… and then I basically just stare at those pictures until something comes to me as: ‘What can I make this out of?’”

“Art for me, is a release of pent up energy,” Gray said, “of what I’ve been thinking about or what is present in my life…” During quarantine, Gray said “I stopped doing art the whole year, I didn’t really do much.” One of Gray’s biggest inspirations happened right before the US went into lockdown: the Australian bushfires.

I care a lot about climate change and about environmentalism in general and I also work at an animal hospital, so most of my work does center around animals and nature and stuff like that.”

— Emma Gray

These natural disasters sparked her creativity, and, ironically, moved Gray to create what would become her favorite piece of art.

The project took her roughly three weeks to create. Symbolizing deforestation, Gray created a burnt tree out of ordinary items. Gray said the destruction of nature is a recurring theme with her art. According to Gray, she took two industrial-sized cardboard tubes and made the branches out of rolled paper. She then covered the bottom half with clay and the top half with papier-mâché.

“I use a lot of paper,” Gray said, a component that may be a surprise to many when creating such elaborate designs and creations. When questioned about her artistic process, Gray responded, “I kind of just buy what I need for it and jump in.” 

As Gray works in an animal hospital, she spends her time taking care of dogs who are sick and dirty. These dogs are a huge part of her inspiration and her life. Gray, in fact, owns a shelter cat, which inspires her to create artworks in an effort to raise awareness for what these animals go through.

As the only student in AP 3D art, Gray encourages interested students to take the class, especially because there is “no one there to bounce ideas off of.” Inspired by her older sister, Audrey, Gray said that the only reason she knew about the class was because of her, who had taken the same class a few years ago. 

“I care a lot about climate change and about environmentalism in general and I also work at an animal hospital, so most of my work does center around animals and nature and stuff like that.”  Gray said.

Gray encourages students who are passionate about issues in our world and have a creative side to take a sculpture class.