Meet the Artist: Grace Summanen

02 Waterseriesgroup
Interpreting the fluidity of fabric.

By Kelli Comer

Local artist Grace Summanen brings her distinctive art to fruition using different household materials, playing with them together and experimenting until she achieves something inimitably beautiful. Inspired by her life and the everyday, Grace uses paint, fabric and wood to push the boundaries in her work.

“Fabric interests me because it can be manipulated to create folds, as well as laid flat to catch texture,” Grace explains. “It can have patterns and be transparent, or opaque, light or heavy. It is a common still-life subject with its place rooted in the history of art, and it’s considered low art or craft because of its feminine connotations. It is also a common material in our society, because everyone wears clothes, has curtains or sheets on their bed, uses it as rags, or as a blanket to give warmth.”

Grace holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Kent State University. She teaches adjunct at The University of Akron (drawing and painting), Lakeland Community College (art appreciation), and Lake Erie College (drawing, painting, and experiencing the visual arts).

Two years ago, Grace began her Water Series. In this series (shown above), she limited her color palette to blues, emulating water. “I was overwhelmed with life. I have three small children, multiple part-time teaching jobs, and an active studio practice. Everything was hard to keep up,” Grace says.

“Physically, my work was loud, reflecting my mind. I began to think about water and calmness and decided to concentrate on the subtly of a limited peaceful color scheme. I have always lived by water. It made sense to emulate it, since I walk my dog along the shore of Lake Erie almost daily to find peace. The details in my image samples show the subtly of the color transitions while the large images emphasize the fluidity of the line.”

Fluidity is probably the strongest reason why Grace connects to fabric.

Grace Summanen

“Fabric is fluid like water, paint and life,” smiles Grace. “When we try to pinpoint truth, it always moves. We must accept the fluidity of its nature. The nature of life itself. When I make art, I attempt to capture this idea through exploration and experimentation.”

To reach Grace, you can email her at For regular updates and to find out more about the artist and her work, visit Grace’s work is also available on

Categories: Arts & Entertainment