Just five years beyond her UVM graduation, Grace Weaver ’11 is rapidly gaining international recognition as an emerging artist. There’s a bold pop sensibility to her large-scale, color-saturated figurative paintings. Over the past year, Weaver, who lives in Brooklyn, has exhibited her work in solo and group shows in New York City, Berlin, Cologne, Miami, Copenhagen, and London, including several of the world’s major contemporary art festivals.
October’s Frieze London festival, where she was represented by the Glasgow, Scotland-based gallery Koppe Astner, was among Weaver’s latest showings. One of her paintings on display, “Can’t and Won’t,” was purchased by Valeria Napoleone, a leading collector and advocate for greater inclusion of work by women artists in museums’ permanent collections.
“Grace Weaver is a young artist and normally I would wait a few years to buy work from a young artist,” Napoleone told Architectural Digest. She notes, however, that she was swayed by her regard for two of the galleries showing Weaver’s work and the fact that other artists admire her paintings. “In terms of the work itself, I love the fact that it looks very classic, it looks like art history, the history of painting, from the perspective that it’s very popish with an element of today. So there is this combination that is very interesting. She knows how to paint beautifully, there is technique there, for me that is important.”
Describing her own work, Weaver says, “I’m not necessarily out to tell a pre-determined story in my paintings. I tend to use art history as a treasure trove to steal from, trying to pepper the paintings with lots of suggestive passages, both from art history and from life, that in the end create a prequel to an action that the viewer can imagine, rather than as a picture of the momentous action itself.”
Similar to many students’ undergraduate experience, Weaver’s path to her major took some exploration to determine where she ultimately wanted to be. An Honors College student, she began as a biology major, took a turn in wildlife biology in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, then came to terms with the fact that her heart was really with her minor—studio art. She graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences with Phi Beta Kappa honors as a studio art major, minors in art history and biology.
“If I hadn't pursued art, I probably would have gone into biology, and maybe worked as a researcher,” Weaver says. “I like that an art practice is a bit like a research practice, but one in which the subject is experience and, hopefully, the audience is as broad as possible.”
Weaver is grateful that she passed through Williams Hall at an opportune time for a young artist. Accomplished painter/professor Frank Owen was in his last years of teaching before retirement, and recent additions to the faculty Steve Budington and Pamela Fraser brought their own perspectives. Art history professor John Seyller, one of the world’s foremost authorities on Indian painting, introduced Weaver to Asian influences reflected in her work today. She travelled to southern India post-graduation, studying and painting at DakshinaChitra Museum.
All of the above helped prepare Weaver for the next step of her growth as an artist, earning a place in Virginia Commonwealth University’s master of fine arts program in painting, widely regarded as one of the nation’s best. She graduated from VCU in 2015.
Professor Budington reflects on working with Weaver in the classroom/studio at UVM: “I think what was remarkable was not so much that it was obvious Grace had the talent and intellect to be an artist, but that she worked with such alacrity—a voracious enthusiasm evidenced by the precocious amount and quality of work being made, and the high level of thinking driving the work,” he says.
On the horizon for Weaver, a spring residency and exhibit in Germany with Berlin’s Soy Capitan Gallery.