Hi! Thank you so much for taking the time to get to know me better as a person and an artist. There is a lot about me I would like my viewers to know that doesn’t fit in the confines of an artist statement. While I know the work tells people about myself without words, I wanted to give insight to my background and upbringing so you could see why and how I came to create each piece! My name is Grace Chepenik and I am a 22 year old mixed media artist from Jacksonville, Florida. For the past four years, I have lived in Miami pursuing my undergraduate degree in sculpture and painting.
I feel very blessed to have known for some time of my passion for art. I have always been an artist by nature, at first that art was dance while my three siblings dove into sports headfirst. I found comfort and solace in creating art of any kind; dance routines, drawings, writings and so on. I looked forward to art class more than recess in elementary school- and that excitement and yearning for art education continued. In the 7th grade I took a drawing course where I just knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I know this inherent love for art was passed down from my maternal grandmother, Carol Allegood. She is an awarded and recognized watercolorist who has helped foster and expand my love for painting. Each summer growing up, I would visit her in Acworth, Georgia where we would spend the majority of the time painting in her studio. That tradition still continues today and for the past few years where we have taken workshops and classes together across the south. Together we like to experiment with different mediums and paint to push each other to continue creating new things.
Since my siblings and I were young, my dad would buy canvases and let us create whatever we wanted on the dining room table. He did not hold back with the sizes of canvases or amount of paint, which greatly affected the approach to my work. Our table studio was short lived as it could not handle the amount of projects I began. We still use the same table covered in paint to eat on at home, which I find a beautiful homage to where my practice in art began. When I voiced this love for art, my Dad transformed an empty room in the house to my art studio. I lived in that studio during any free hours I had. I find so much comfort in a creative space, building a studio in each and every place I inhabit. I truly feel more at home in my studio than in my bedroom. My parents have continuously nurtured my passion for art and pushed me to believe the sky’s the limit. I feel beyond blessed to have family and friends that believe in my artistic endeavors.
I graduated Spring 2021 from the University of Miami as a Foote Fellow Honor Student with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Sculpture and Painting and a minor in Art History. I came into the program determined to pursue a career as a painter, until I was introduced to glass. I have not been able to get enough of the fiery dance. I cannot understand why anyone wouldn’t want to play with fire as a profession, but that may just be the inner pyromaniac in me. When I learned I could use this medium to convey the messages and stories as painting has helped me do, I was hooked.
I have experimented with paintings on and with glass in efforts to try to combine these two passions. There is a sense of solitude and reflection while I paint, urging me to slow down and meditate on the image at hand. Whereas with glass, it is more of a communal art form that I do not have as much time to think about, but rather react instinctively. The two art forms are significantly different but both give me a voice in the language of art. I feel combining the two mediums will allow me to show myself clearer in my work, it will dig into my reactive natural state as well as my steady and calm nature. I am very excited to explore further into the development of glass and painting as one entity.
I am interested in a plethora of approaches until I create a process that is deeply me. I aim to convey the message behind the art and then the medium and technique follow. I find a greater depth in my work that uses multiple techniques and mediums.
I have been blessed to learn from different experts across the country and in Italy. I have been most affected by my teachers at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville and professors at the University of Miami. I have traveled to New York twice for specific glass techniques, Painting on Glass with Cappy Thompson and Solid Sculpting with Deborah Czeresko. I was blessed to take private glass blowing lessons in Murano, Italy and assist for tourist demonstrations at Gino Mazzucuto’s studio. I have studied oil painting in Rome and worked in an art gallery in southern Italy. These incredible experiences and education will forever shape me as an artist and a person. I am beyond grateful for my life and experiences and create work that substantiate my appreciation.
I present my love for life and connectivity to other beings in my work through my vivid colors and imagery. I paint with large brush strokes to show the energy of these beings while also incorporating my vision of color and style as a painter. I feel it is this vision of color and energy is what I am meant to translate into art. I am constantly being inspired and affected by my environment and the work shows this.
My parents told me I am named Grace because it means “God’s Favor”. Each day my greatest conviction and favor to God, and myself, is that I create artwork. I want my work to speak to people on a deeper level than strangers are expected to. I pour myself into my artwork because it is every part of me and I aim to make this easily accessible for viewers so they may too find pieces of themselves in my work.
A beautiful thing I have learned while making art is that my work tells me what I need to know about myself and my life. I made a decision when I was fourteen that I would be an artist, and I really have never questioned or doubted this choice. I knew I would forever regret or question my life if I did not pursue art to my highest degree. I genuinely thank you for taking the time to learn about my journey and supporting me through it. I am exhilarated to see where this path will take me and I hope you join me on it!
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