Portrait of an Artist: Ray DiCapua

Marie / Ray DiCapua / Charcoal on paper, 2011 / Collection of the artist
Marie / Ray DiCapua / Charcoal on paper, 2011 / Collection of the artist

Q: Where do you live?

A: I presently have residences in Connecticut and Washington, D.C.

Q: What medium(s) do you work with?

A: At the present, I work mostly with charcoal.

Q: What is your background (education, career, etc.) and how does it contribute to your art?

A: I studied art and received BFA and MFA degrees. I teach studio art practices at a university. I had teachers who were transformational for me. In this way, it matters to me that I engage in dialog with students. In both teaching and in the studio, staying as close as I can to the communicative aspect of the creative process in general and to image making in particular becomes more and more important to me each day.

Q: How did you learn about the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition?

A: A colleague brought this to my attention.

Q: Tell us about the piece you submitted to the competition.

A: With this drawing of my wife, Marie, I explore the intersubjective qualities of our relationship, as well as objective and subjective aspects of her physicality and character. As her husband, I have a distinct vantage on the lifetime of experience comprised in her complex gaze. Yet making this drawing challenged me to explore aspects of her strength and vulnerability that extend past my direct experience. Marie is a conflict specialist in the field of international development. She sends home stories of our troubled, fragile world. My relationship to these stories is embedded in the marks that make the image.

Q: Tell us about your larger body of work.

A: I like thinking about the fact that drawing begins with an interrogation of appearances. Yet looking inevitably gets entangled with interpretations. Technically and in terms of content, my work explores how images—and portraits in particular—can inform, provoke, and inspire self-reflective awareness and dialog about personal and cultural narratives, identities, and worldviews.

The making and viewing of portraiture as art has, historically, investigated the ways through which we identify each other and ourselves. In a shrinking, fragile, and volatile world, contemporary portraiture becomes an important catalyst for dialogue that enables and supports the constructive engagement of our diversity and interdependence. Through exploring the interplay between interpretation, recognition, meaning, and experience in relationship to scale and proximity, it is my hope that my work furthers the discourse on what it means to see and be seen.

Q: What are you currently working on?

A: A large drawing of my father’s hands and a series of large portraits and a series of large drawings of draped objects and figures.

Q: How has your work changed over time?

A: Thankfully, over time there has been a deepening of my relationship with both ease and urgency in the work.

Q: Who is your favorite artist?

A: Magdalena Abakanowicz

Q: If you could work with any artist (past or present) who would it be?

A: Iri Maruki and Toshi Maruki

Q: What inspires you?

A: Evolution of human consciousness. Our capacity to experience and communicate shared meaning. When people in need get help. When the first snow starts to fall at dusk when the air is still.