Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Spread Your Wings.

Intrinsically linked to street art, graffiti, social and political activism, stencil art is often a highly charged, stark art form, frequently hard hitting in its message and urgent in its presentation and execution.

Minneapolis artist Amy Rice has a very individual and magical style of her own. Her stencil based art stimulates the senses in a gentler, more subtle manner. Her paintings soothe rather than shout.

(Cupcake Lake.)

The messages present in her work are of comfort, familiarity, hope and positivity but sometimes echo with a wistfulness for bygone days, values and traditions.

(Olivia and Olivia's Mom in Pink.)

Amy grew up on a farm in the Midwest and this way of life has saturated her psyche. She captures images of nature and rural Americana but sometimes tints them with moods of melancholy nostalgia. Although no one clearly defined era is represented, childhood and observing the world through a child's eye are commonly repeated themes.

(Bundled With Bunny.)

In addition to cutting her own stencils, Amy uses a Gocco printmaker, a small home screen printing machine, originating from Japan in the 1970's which has sadly recently been discontinued due to the rise in digital printers.

(Amy's Print Gocco.)

(Failure of the RSVP.)

Because of the stencil and print element of her work. Amy's original paintings often duplicate a character or scene, but by changing elements such as the colourway or the background, it becomes a one off unique piece. Mixed media also plays a part. Often Amy will deliberately give a piece an aged or weathered appearance, for example by crackling the paint.

(Wings Are Pretty.)

Amy also loves to use found or vintage objects as a canvas or base for her work. This can include anything from a disused piece of furniture or a randomly found wooden panel. She has even used materials taken from old barns.

Found written or printed matter also find themselves beautifully incorporated. It could be an old envelope...

(Future On Wheels.)

Or a sheet of music.


Antique love letters are also a favourite of Amy's and the emotional resonance of an abandoned or forgotten part of a once alive love, add a strong personal element to the finished piece.


Animals abound in Amy's work and in their poise or expression sometimes seem to be offering silent wisdom to the human viewer. Birds look us in the eye just before they spread their wings, maybe reminding us of the gift of freedom.

(Tiny Crown.)

(Take Off.)

Amy's own dog Ella is a gentle companion and source of inspiration.

(Ella and Secret Cupcake Mission.)

I love the surrealism that Amy's mind's eye sees and her art captures. It is not threatening but dreamlike.

(Wings with attitude.)

I also adore the cups and cakes that make a regular appearance. As if to say, it's 4 o' clock, let's all stop for tea and relax. Maybe the whole world should do this more.

(Feeding the Habit.)

Flowers, especially Zinnias and Hollyhocks, flourish, conjuring up country garden havens and retreats away from the pressures of the manufactured modern world.

(Flower Garden.)

The old fashioned farming of our crops and vegetables and the reward of the harvest is also celebrated.

(Be Proud Of What You Nurture And Grow.)

So is human compassion towards animals.

(You May Be Suprised At What You Grow To Love.)

Amy believes in and advocates art as a therapeutic and healing tool for sufferers of chronic and severe mental health problems. She is actively involved in this as a director of Spectrum Artworks which, in the words of Amy and the organisation's blog, is "a non-profit visual art organization in the heart of Minneapolis that provides studio space and community for artists living with a mental illness. In addition to producing amazing art Spectrum ArtWorks Artists work to educate the public about mental illness and in doing so break down the stigma associated with the disease."

"It is not an art therapy program or an art class. It is a physical studio space where artists can meet and make art, build community and work together as advocates to combat the stigma surrounding the disease of mental illness."

(Find Your Wings.)

Amy also knows the therapeutic value of a killer pair of shoes. Her love of funky Fluevogs is part of her style. She was even invited by the company to express her love of their footwear.

(Pink Fluevogs.)

(Red Fluevogs.)

Amy's profile continues to grow and wider international exposure was given to her by the inclusion of her work in the book Stencil Nation by Russell Howze.

She is perhaps one of the more unorthodox inclusions in this eclectic but graffiti top-heavy compilation of stencil art from around the globe, but her uniqueness makes her shine.

Extensive uploads of Amy's work can be viewed on her Flickr page. Her art can be found for sale online at Bluebottle Art, Art Star Gallery and through her available art blog.


  1. great work!! Love all the images! Come see me sometime!!

  2. Hi Brandi! Thanks for checking out my blog, glad you like it! Big shout out to Amy and the artists who have let me use their wonderful images! I will definitely be in touch, love your work too!