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Debra Ferrari embarks on a labor of love and pain


Art is at its most powerful and potent when it carries a clear message. The combination of beautiful aesthetic and a call for social engagement creates the magic that impacts viewers on both emotional and intellectual levels. Such are the works of Dallas-based artist Debra Ferrari in her new series, Running to Stand Still.

A professional artist since 1998, Ferrari established herself in Colorado but relocated with her husband, sculptor James Ferrari, to Dallas in 2017. An active environmentalist, Ferrari has been inspired by nature throughout her career. “I feel a very personal connection to nature, such as you would feel to your family,” says the artist. “It is not an abstract notion to me; it is a part of who we are, and we are a part of it. People need to exhibit more responsibility to the environment, the way we care for our families and society, perhaps more, not less.”

Ferrari’s mission is to draw people into the idea of nature and to increase awareness of the impact we, as humans, make on life that surrounds us. Conversations about climate change and environmental protection have been going on for decades, but they appear to bring very little actual change to stave off the seemingly inevitable catastrophe.

Ferrari was inspired to create the Running to Stand Still series after reading the article “Carbon Emissions at Record High in 2018” in the Dallas Morning News. This very dry account of climate change recorded by scientific studies moved the artist to reflect on what stands behind rising pollution and the proliferation of greenhouse gasses. A blatant disregard of the environment in pursuit of economic gains is the driving force for her creative motivation.

The series will be focused on capturing the atmospherics of nature at the time of climate change. The canvases are designed to awaken viewers to the reality of nature in today’s world. Knowing about a problem is not the same as feeling something about it. Emotional engagement leads to real, substantial involvement of every citizen, and that can drive the ever so needed change.

Ferrari says: “The paintings for the exhibition are a work in progress and a very emotional one at that. I am in the process of nurturing the idea, testing the waters, experimenting with color, and defining the clarity of what I want my paintings to represent. I want to make sure that each painting is as impactful as the collection of them as a whole. It is a labor of love and pain.”

The paintings will be a mix of abstract and representational techniques, combining pure emotions with figurative representation of ideas. Ferrari works in oil and acrylic on canvas, often mixing the two media.

The opening of the exhibition Running to Stand Still is planned for April 10, 2019, and will coincide with Dallas Art Week. Ferrari Gallery is conveniently located in the heart of the Dallas Design District on Dragon Street and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday.

Ferrari Gallery serves both as an exhibition space and a working studio for both husband and wife.

James Ferrari is known for creating captivating sculptures made of auto parts. He is also working on a new series of sculptures that will be unveiled later in the year. These abstract imaginings are a mix of car parts and various metals; they present a unique aesthetic of masculine fluidity, unlike any other. Fans of both luxury automobiles and contemporary sculpture will appreciate Ferrari’s modern creations.

Whether you are a newcomer to Dallas or a lifelong Dallasite, Ferrari Gallery should be on your list of places to visit. The opportunity to see the artwork and meet the artists in their studio and discuss their work is a definite treat.

Tatyana Murphy is a Dallas-based creative professional, freelance writer and editor, who specializes in fashion, art and design.

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