Grace Harbin Wever, Ph.D.
Grace Harbin Wever is a mixed media artist, whose award-winning work is found in fine art galleries, and public and private collections throughout the U.S. Travelling exhibitions including her work have visited the CDC in Atlanta, Odyssey Museum in San Diego, Pfizer Headquarters in New York City, venues in England and Europe, and in 2015 the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC. Her collages incorporate brilliantly-colored layers of silk, hand-dyed cotton, paper, and metallic and synthetic materials. Iridescence and transparency bring additional light and airiness to her work, while encaustic wax and free-motion stitching embellish the design and add texture and three-dimensionality. Her work can be visualized on her website at www.weverart.net
Wever often works in series creating narrative art that incorporates spiritual and literary themes. “On Wings of the Wind” is a 12-part series illustrating King David’s poetry. “Landscapes of the Mind and Spirit” is another series, with commentary in collaboration with Dr. Lois Pope and colleagues at Alabama Psychological Services Center in Huntsville, AL. The seven-part “Striking Stone” series illustrates a dream sequence, and was exhibited at Emory University in Atlanta as a group show with painter Reinaldo Vargas and photographer Charlie Harbin. “Within the Walls, Beyond the Gates” includes 20 works exhibited at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center in Pueblo, CO, in 2013-2014.
Wever was selected as Huntsville’s 2013 Panoply Arts Festival Poster Artist. The artwork commissioned for this event, “Luminescence,” is permanently displayed at the Arts Council’s gallery in the Von Braun Center.
Prior to her career as an artist, Grace earned a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from Temple University. She was a fellow at Baylor Medical Center and the University of Rochester Medical Center, and a research faculty member at the Institute of Optics in Rochester, NY. At Eastman Kodak she was a bio-analytical laboratory director and environmental manager, then moved to KPMG Peat Marwick as senior manager in their Philadelphia and Denver offices. Wever chaired the Department of Commerce’s National Sea Grant Panel advising NOAA on coastal and marine research. She was a founder and first president of the Council of Great Lakes Industries, a bi-national public policy organization co-founded with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Her book, “Strategic Environmental Management,” published by John Wiley & Sons, has received international recognition.
Wever is married to Albrecht Wever, a prolific physicist, engineer and innovator. They have three children, David Wever, M.D., of Birmingham, Ingrid Marie Wever Felts, co-lead and vocalist with the Watters Felts Project of Huntsville, and Michael Wever, engineering director, in Dothan
For the first five years of my life as an artist, I was consumed with the process of making art. Most likely this is because it was a time of miraculous discoveries and intensive learning, which delighted me as a former scientist and technical person. Happily, today, my perspective is different. I am attentive to an inner voice that guides my work. No, this is decidedly not a religious experience; but there is, nevertheless, a strongly spiritual impetus that both inspires and pervades my work. Many works are inspired by image-rich poetry from the Bible and other literary sources.
Perhaps you are now looking at one of my artworks, wondering how it is made. I do not start with a drawing, photograph, or mental image of the final product! I begin by walking restlessly around my studio, engaged in a mental and physical battle of sorts, focusing on the idea or verse that I am trying to interpret through imagery. Ideas for the piece begin to emerge; once the work process begins, things move rapidly. I begin with color, thus setting the emotional color temperature of the piece. I feverishly locate candidate textiles and begin a layout. My stash of perhaps a thousand fabrics includes silks, hand-dyed cottons, batiks, synthetics, metallic silks, cut velvets. Some of these are also translucent, iridescent, crinkled and otherwise textured. The cutting process is critical–first roughly, then finely, shaped pieces emerge, and with them, I create a jigsaw-like image. But unlike a real-world jigsaw puzzle, the pieces begin to overlap, and the image continues to evolve during the creation process. At some point, I begin to back each piece with an incredibly lightweight fusible web that requires heat for permanence. Most of my work is then panel-mounted, then framed, though some simply are suspended from artisan-fashioned wooden hangers. Finally, my work is lightly overcoated with an acrylic UV protectant varnish. As a former scientist, I confess that I still enjoy the experimental aspects of my work almost as much as developing its artistic content. Thus, the process itself continues to support and grow my artistry.
Most artists admit to the need for inspiration, and can become nearly catatonic when their Muse departs. I continue to be enthralled by the incomparable beauty of the real world wherever I choose to live. But it is only when I link these physical stimuli to the intangibility of the spiritual realm, informed by words and verses that touch my heart, that my soul permeates and transforms my work. Then, in turn, my art reaches out and powerfully embraces those who are open to receive these gifts.