Artist Member Spotlight: Ceil Rossi
Ceil Rossi is perhaps one of the more nontraditional artists members at Arts Center East. Ceil’s medium of choice is gourds, “nature’s pottery.” She has been a gourd artist for fourteen years. Ceil has shown her work recently at Arts Center East in the Animalia Exhibit and the 8th Annual Artist Members Exhibit. While she is a juried artist in Arizona, due to the scarcity of gourd artists in New England, she is unable to be a juried artist here. But that has not discouraged Ceil from continuing her passion and teaching others about gourding.
Ceil’s interest in gourd art began with a trip to a California gourd farm. “There were millions of gourds for sale, so many different shapes and sizes. I picked some up and brought them back to Arizona. This trip helped plant the seed of what would become the Carefree Gourd Gallery in Carefree, AZ.” While living in Arizona, she began taking classes from established gourd artists. “There are ‘gourd patches’ around the country. These folks meet monthly and share their art and have juried shows. I was the President of the Southwest Gourd Patch in Phoenix Arizona.” Ceil now teaches others about gourd art and has given her talk “From Field to Fine Art” at various places around New England, including Farmington Valley Art, Windsor Art, and more.
Gourd art is a much more popular art form in the West: California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico. “In the Northeast there are very few gourd artists, as this is such a regional art.” To create her artwork, Ceil works with a gourd grower in California, in the Temecula Valley. New England gourds are not the type that are useful for gourd art. The gourds Ceil uses are called “hard-shelled,” as opposed to the thin-skinned gourds of New England. “It takes 180 days to grow and dry the gourd in the field.”
Though Ceil describes her first attempt at gourd art leaving much to be desired, she now creates incredible works of fine art. Ceil approaches the gourds with a design in mind and chooses the gourd accordingly. The paints that Ceil uses are transparent ink dyes, you can see the mottled skin of the gourd. “You don’t want to cover up the skin of the gourd with heavy acrylic paint because it’s part of the beauty of that gourd,” says Ceil. She prefers to work freeform but will plan the design ahead of carving and painting. “Since returning to Western New England 7 years ago, I have changed the type of art that I design. I no longer design Western themes and have changed to a more traditional style that fits New England.”
More of Ceil’s work can be found at www.facebook.com/carefreegourdgallery