student and alumnx art spaces, collectives and organizations

Profile: Gray Space Project with Alumnx Renee Couture (S 11)

Exploring a range of topics from place to motherhood to wanderlust, Renee Couture has a diverse practice, encompassing sculpture, photography, and drawing.

Couture graduated from Buena Vista University with a BA in Studio Art and Spanish. She spent the next four years rambling throughout the United States and South America. She earned her MFA in Visual Art from Vermont College of Fine Arts (Montpelier, VT). Couture currently works as a Project Manager for the Percent for Art Program managed by the Oregon Arts Commission.

Couture’s work has been exhibited nationally in group exhibitions and as a solo artist. She is the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship and four Career Opportunity Grants from the Oregon Arts Commission, and four Project Grants from the Douglas County Cultural Coalition. Couture has been granted residencies at Ucross Foundation, Djerassi Residency Artist Program, Jentel, PLAYA, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and Pine Meadow Ranch. Currently, Couture lives on seven acres in rural southern Oregon with her husband, toddler daughter, and two dogs. She works out of a retrofitted 20-foot camper-turned studio space located in her garden.

What is/are your mission/goals?

Gray Space is a 6’x6’x6’ steel and Plexiglas module on wheels that allows artists in the Gray Space Collective to interrupt the gallery model for exhibiting and viewing artwork by using a temporary and moveable venue. It gives the freedom to display work almost anywhere while avoiding the existing power structures of the art world. Considering the location of the module is integral to the artwork shown inside of Gray Space, thus making everything “site-specific”.

The Gray Space Project presents exciting opportunities to expand our creative practices as the Gray Space module provides a consistent set of constraints in creating site-specific works of art. It also is sort of an experiment or an exploration of how art and place influence each other. Given the moveable nature of the Gray Space module, The Gray Space collective is able to temporarily bring conceptual art to public locations around rural Oregon, to art lovers and non-art lovers alike, thereby adding to the arts conversation within communities and to Oregon’s arts ecology.

Who makes up the Gray Space Project?

Gray Space is made up of artists who live in central and southern Oregon. Members are Vicki Amorose, Kate Ali, Michael Boonstra, Kathleen Caprario, Lee Imonen, Sandee McGee, Andy Myers, Leah Wilson, and me.

When did you start?

Goodness, back in 2018, I think.

Where did you start?

In Eugene, Oregon. It’s sort of central – Gray Spacers who live to the south could drive north, and those who live north could drive south.

How did you start?

We started with meetings to get to know each other. Oregon’s art community is small, so we had all heard of each other and seen each others’ work. Our monthly meetings fostered trust, creativity, exchange, and exploration. This took time. We spent a number of months just getting to know each other. Then we made the Gray Space Module for artwork/projects. From there, we planned various Gray Space exhibitions and events, including several day-long pop-up exhibits located at rest stops, campgrounds, a Tailgate Party for Art, and a month-long project.

What’s next for Gray Space Project?

Not to be coy, but I honestly don’t know. During COVID, many Gray Space artists were dealing with changing jobs and changes to how they had to do their jobs, caring for family, personal art projects, and other responsibilities. We also recognized that we need to change when we do projects. Given the extremes in wildfires and all that accompany wildfires (including evacuations, poor air quality, locations where we might want to exhibit being burned, etc.) we realized that summer and fall are not good times for projects. We need to take advantage of the springtime weather. We plan to start meeting again to hopefully begin again, but we seem to be in a sort of hibernating period, which is fine. Flexibility and change is at the core of Gray Space. We shall see.