Photo by Carl Studna
Ellamaria Ray is a professor of African American studies and visual anthropology, a student of the Jamaican Rastafari movement, and a visionary creator of material culture. She creates a relationship between ethnographic data and visual art as a tool for understanding our human experience.
Dr. Ray earned a B.A. from Colorado College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University. She has studied figurative and conceptual ceramic sculpture independently with Arthur González. She has taken sculpture classes from Jean Van Keuren (Davis Arts Center), Arnold Zimmerman (Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass, Colorado), Gayla Lemke, Barry Rose (Art Students League of Denver), and with Marie E.v.B. Gibbons.
Thus far, Dr. Ray’s sojourn has led her to Cortona, Italy, as an artist-in-residence for the University of Georgia’s Study Abroad Program. She's been the recipient of fellowships at the University of California, Davis, and Colorado College, Colorado Springs, to analyze ethnographic data and explore humanity through visual art. Fieldwork has taken her to Jamaica, Botswana, and the midwestern and southern United States. Always, she seeks the African roots of contemporary diasporic African cultural manifestations.
Dr. Ray's ceramic sculpture emerges from a commitment to acknowledge how continental and diasporic Africans share cultural commonalities while simultaneously expressing cultural distinctions. As an anthropologist and visual artist, she strives to teach and understand the complex vision diasporic Africans are creating for themselves and all of humanity as we walk into the twenty-first century.
"Anthropology reminds me that in this society
performing and visual artists are powerful modern-day healers.
And, in the end, my muse and I put our hands in clay and weave
words and thoughts into stories to touch people at the soulular level,
and empower humanity's authentic self-expression."
Em A. Foley-Ray, 2022
Photo by Joe Hancock