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Visiting artists discuss work in Paris

Stephanie and Francisco Ramos are shown Friday during their visit to the Nobles County Arts Center in Worthington. Pictured behind the couple is "Imperfect Minds," a life-sized diptych collage created by more than 30 Area Learning Center students depicting last November's presidential candidates.

WORTHINGTON -- In recognition of Student Art Month and through the Nobles County Arts Center's sponsorship, Stephanie and Francisco Ramos visited with Worthington students Friday to talk about art and their work in Paris.

The couple met with students from the Area Learning Center to view the student art show currently on display at the arts center. They also spoke with them about their work and to encourage them in future artistic endeavors.

Afterward, Francisco and Stephanie went to the high school to visit the four art classes there.

Born in Portugal, Francisco is an accomplished artist and tries to, as he writes in his artist statement, "do what is seemingly impossible in my art: to incorporate at once the three style of impressionism, cubism and fauvism."

He told the students that when he was young, he "was not a very good artist; I had to copy the others. I could not draw a tree or the sun."

But at the age of 12, while his parents played cards, Francisco began drawing his family. At age 16 he did his first canvas -- a landscape of his hometown in Portugal -- that was sold to a resident of the town.

His wife Stephanie, a Fairmont native, said she and Francisco met while she was in France as a student. The two married and returned to the states so Francisco could attend North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Ill.

The two were commissioned by the Covenant church to return to France as missionaries in 1996. Initially, they both worked in the church, but due to Francisco's background in art, their ministry evolved to what it is today -- an outreach of encouragement and support for the Christian artistic community in Paris.

"We have our ministry to encourage Christians who are in the arts, but also artists in general," Stephanie said.

The couple works with a team to run a gallery in Paris that each month features a different artist -- either a painter or a photographer -- while bringing in guest speakers and participating in artist exchanges.

"Every month, we have one artist showing for three weeks," Fransisco said. "We do the opening night. We have about 200 people coming to the opening night, and then we have people coming every afternoon."

Francesco and Stephanie said they see their ministry as a way to bring God into people's daily lives.

"The arts are important to God as well," Stephanie said. "God made certain people very creative, and that is important as well."

"Congratulations, it's a good start," Francisco said, referring to the students' art work that lined the walls.

The show features work from many Worthington arts students, including a six-foot, life-sized diptych collage titled "Imperfect Minds" and created by more than 30 ALC students. The students used recycled mailers from the fall election to create a collage depicting last November's two presidential candidates.

"We collected all the political mailers that we got last fall," ALC Visual Arts Instructor James Van Horn said. Then we ripped them up and looked at value and color to be able to create the two political parties -- and how that it is hard to tell them apart, really, when you look at it."

"It looks very creative," Francisco said while looking at the piece. "You can see the proportions are very good. You can see that one represents a Democrat and the other a Republican."

It reminds me that there's really very little difference in humanity," Stephanie added.

Francisco encouraged the students to keep practicing and developing their talent, referencing his own history and the work of Pablo Picasso.

"What you guys do is very good," he said. "Be encouraged and keep practicing. It's like piano -- you have to do a little bit each week when you have spare time, instead of watching television, and you can do some art work or take pictures. Keep on doing what you do and move on to quality and excellence."

To continue learning about art, Francisco encouraged the students to visit art galleries whenever possible and read as much as they can about technique and various artists.

"You learn a lot by visiting museums and art galleries.," he said. "You can go to the Twin Cities when you have time, or go to other places in Minnesota or South Dakota."

"Art is a way of putting in front of people things that there aren't words for sometimes and helping people to see things that maybe they aren't already seeing," Stephanie added. "Art is very important to draw us out of our everyday lives to look at deeper issues in our culture."

Francisco's words may have been spoken to students in the context of developing their artistic careers, but they stand as wisdom to anyone.

"Whatever you do, to it well; try to be informed, read a lot of books, and have good teachers and continue practicing," he said. "It is very important to develop the gift you have been given."

Daily Globe Reporter

Alyson Buschena may be

reached at 376-7322.

Alyson Buschena
Alyson joined the Daily Globe newsroom staff after spending a year in Latin America. A native of Fulda and graduate of the University of Northwestern, she has a bachelor's degree in English with a dual concentration in Literature and Writing and a minor in Spanish. At the Daily Globe, Alyson covers the crime beat as well as Pipestone and Murray counties, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking. More of Alyson's writing can be found at
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