Williamsport native travels from San Francisco to exhibit at Penn College

June 27, 2016

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — A woman who grew up in Williamsport and credits early mentors with stirring her creativity and curiosity, is returning “home” to exhibit at The Gallery at Penn College.

Michelle Ramin, an artist who lives and teaches in San Francisco, will begin the gallery’s 2016-17 exhibit season with her show, “The Sky’s (Not) The Limit,” a collection of oil paintings, watercolors and colored-pencil pieces.

Ramin’s exhibit opens on Thursday, July 14, with a Meet the Artist reception set for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., featuring an artist’s talk at 5:30 p.m. The show runs through Aug. 14. The reception and exhibit are open to the public and free of charge.

Ramin, daughter of Eugene F. “Fred” Ramin Jr. and Christine Ramin, both of Williamsport, will showcase her newest body of work — oil paintings portraying tourists within famous museums in Europe — along with series of figurative watercolors and pencil drawings on stark white backgrounds.

“The work in ‘The Sky's (Not) the Limit’ covers the last five years of my art practice,” Ramin said. “Always with the figure at the focus, my drawings and paintings tend to deal with the psychology of the individual, sometimes alone but often within groups or crowds, contending with identity and place within their environment or lack thereof.”

Ramin graduated from Loyalsock Township High School in 2000. Her formative years in Williamsport were blessed by a number of mentors along the way.

“I spent a lot of time with my grandmother (the late Mary Ramin) growing up … and we'd draw together. She bought me my first real set of colored pencils, and she would buy me a new color or two every time I got a good report card,” Ramin recalled. “I was also encouraged throughout my schooling by various teachers: Helena Meixel in elementary school and Joy Walls in middle school, and later, Paul Barrett in high school, in particular. 

“Art kinda chose me, not the other way around. It's always been a passion of mine and something I still enjoy very much. I don't think I could live without it.”

Ramin earned a bachelor of arts in fine art at Penn State and a master of fine arts in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, the oldest fine-arts institution on the West Coast.

In addition to pursuing her craft and exhibiting throughout the country, Ramin teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute and City College of San Francisco. She instructs mostly adult learners and, occasionally, pre-college students in drawing and painting. Her goal is to find a full-time teaching position at a university.

Having been inspired by her own teachers and being the daughter of a teacher (her father taught for more than 30 years in the Williamsport Area School District), Ramin is well aware of the power of that role.

“I think teachers have always played a huge role in my life; the good ones, especially, really took me under their wing and gave me support, encouragement and taught differently in the classroom,” Ramin said. “As an abstract thinker and doer, sometimes traditional ways of learning just didn't function properly for me. As a teacher myself, I strive to give my students multiple ways in which they can take in the information. Of course, with art, it's a little easier than, say, math or science, and not nearly as concrete, so there's more leeway to be versatile.”

The artist is also aware of the power of art to enhance life experiences.

“I always hope my students want to continue making, whether that be painting, sculpting, drawing, photography or crafts of any sort. I think making and creating with our hands is an innate human experience that can make us feel successful and fulfilled in ways nothing else can. I'm a very positive-reinforcement kind of teacher for that reason — I never want my students to leave the classroom feeling like there are limitations or that something isn't possible. I believe anything is possible if you work hard at it and really want it to happen — there's always a way! I hope that's what my students take away from my classroom. If they're able to do that, I've succeeded as a teacher — and that is my greatest joy,” Ramin said.

Her artwork is influenced by a variety of artists and experiences.

“My influences are all over the map. I draw a lot from the artists Storm Tharp, Nicole Eisenman, Josephine Taylor and Aurel Schmidt. I've also just been introduced to Eric Fischl's latest body of work portraying art fairs, which are mind-blowing. Beyond painters, I take a lot of my inspiration from daily life — my own experiences, people in my life, and interactions with my surroundings. I'm very much of the mindset that art should, in some way, reflect the artist's life and their own observations — in a way, autobiographical and documentative.”

The Gallery at Penn College is on the third floor of Madigan Library. The gallery’s summer hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The gallery is closed on Saturdays and Mondays.

In addition to serving as an educational resource for Penn College students and a cultural asset to the college and community, the gallery is dedicated to promoting art appreciation through exhibitions of contemporary art.

For more about The Gallery at Penn College, visit www.pct.edu/gallery.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, visit www.pct.edu, email admissions@pct.edu or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Last Updated June 27, 2016