Grace Cross

Cross is a material painter who draws symbols about motherhood, home, belief structures, and land; making shifting recipes rooted in history, performative archaeology, and African cosmology, to reflect her cultural transmission across national boundaries. Her work conjures a deep history, bringing transformative cultural wisdom and materials together to erode, uncover, excavate and perforate boundaries of the motherland.

Her childhood and young adulthood were spent between continents; she was brought up in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Greece, India and the USA. Her diverse upbringing informs her painting practice, where she fuses cultural storytelling, spirituality, and the archaeological mining of symbols in her loud and color-filled canvases.

She graduated with her MFA at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2016 and holds a BFA from the Michaelis School of Art at the University of Cape Town, for which she was awarded the Judy Steiner painting prize in 2010. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions locally and abroad. Cross is a grant recipient from the University of Illinois at Chicago and National Arts Council, South Africa. She has participated in many art fairs in South Africa and abroad, having a solo booth at Joburg Art Fair in 2016. She has works in the collections of the Africa First Collection, Spier Arts Trust, and the University of Cape Town among others. Cross lives and works as a mother and painter in Cape Town.

"My paintings seek to represent a cosmological world, where the ground, made of woven fiber, becomes the landscape my paint adheres to. The substrate and the content cannot be separated because of their symbolic nature. I work with pictures that are so full and so extensive that it is impossible to take a step backward, screw up one’s eyes, and enjoy the whole. I want to get people to move not just their eyes but also their whole person along and around the picture plane as if they were reading a map or playing a game." - Grace Cross

Works in the collection