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A commitment to developing a visual language in both form and content that signifies—rather than pictorially represents—the essential and abiding experience of nature's transcendental energy.


Ray Kass is an internationally recognized artist whose work is represented by Garvey/Simon: ART ACCESS  in NYC and the Reynolds Gallery in Richmond, Virginia.

His paintings have been widely exhibited and have been represented in solo exhibitions in New York City by the Allan Stone Gallery, A.V.C. Contemporary Arts Gallery, ZONE: Chelsea Center for the Arts, Baumgartner Gallery, and ir77 Contemporary Art. He has received numerous grants and awards, including individual artists grants from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and  the National Endowment for the Arts. His paintings reside in many public and private collections.

Ray Kass is Professor Emeritus of Art at Virginia Tech, and founder and director of The Mountain Lake Workshop; an ongoing series of collaborative and inter-related workshops centered in the environmental, cultural, and community resources of the Appalachian region of southwestern Virginia. The workshops have resulted in many unique, collaborative works of art that have been widely exhibited. Artists who have completed several workshops at Mountain Lake (or are currently engaged in ongoing projects) include folk-artist Howard Finster, Japanese artist & sculptor Jiro Okura, the late avant-garde composer, writer composer and artist John Cage, waste management installation-artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles (official artist in residence of the New York Sanitation Dept.), ceramic artist, poet and author M.C. Richards (author of Centering), Colorado-based “EcoArtist” Lynne Hull, NYC East Harlem “street- artist” James De La Vega, Zen art scholar and artist Stephen Addiss, and Paris-based sculptor and virtual-reality “light” artist Jackie Matisse, as well as Ray Kass himself, among many others.

His publications include numerous reviews, articles and catalogs, including:  Sounds of The Inner Eye: John Cage, Mark Tobey and Morris Graves, Univ. of Washington Press, Seattle and London (2002) – (also in German: Klange des Inneren Auges, Kunsthalle Bremen/Beyeler Foundation, Munich, 2002), Morris Graves: Vision of the Inner-Eye, Braziller, NY (1983) and John Cage: New River Watercolors, Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA, and a major critical essay in Writings Through John Cage’s Music, Poetry and Art, University of Chicago, 1999.

In 2012 he had two extended residencies at MQ in Vienna, Austria.

He is the son of celebrated American Folk Artist Jacob Kass (1910-2000).


Kass teaching to summer students at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg, Austria, 2013.

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Painting beside the New River, 2006 (Photo: Chris Munger)


Kass in front of his exhibition "Notations" at the Taubman Museum of Art, 2020. Photo credit Taubman Museum of Art


Painting at St. Patrick Down, County Mayo, Ireland in 1999 (Photo: Susan Shatter)


Painting in Ipswich. Massachusetts in 1974 (Photo: Susan Shatter)

"Over a period of more than thirty-five years, my out-of-doors water and mixed media paintings of the natural world have developed in my favorite locations in North Carolina, California, Maine, New Hampshire, and Virginia. Although abstract, my recent  paintings are carefully derived from drawings and life-studies from nature, and attempt to represent the processes of nature at work rather than pictorial description.

I feel that my painting directly responds to the environments that I work in, however, I no longer paint the landscape with the objective of achieving representational or "realistic" images. However, in my earlier work, I often made representational depictions of specific places after I had made many non-pictorial abstract works in the same locale. My use of realism is not an afterthought – but information-gathering that refreshed and expanded my sense of color and form. My particular development reverses the usual assumption that "abstraction" develops from the confirmed experience of the study of "realism." Drawings provide the source materials for my recent paintings; I develop them into fragmented patterns of cut-out shapes that I overlay in the process of applying layers of oil emulsion and dry pigment over similarly composite patterns of water media on paper."

My appreciation of the natural world is for the great variety of texture, light, form and eventful psychology that finds its maximum expression in its manifestations. I feel that the Pieces and Garden Pieces paintings that I have made since 2009-2010 have figurative as well as floral connotation; I think that this is a reflection of the experience of my friendship with Merce Cunningham, his choreography, and the amazing performances of  the Merce Cunningham Dance Company."


Ray Kass posing for an exposure by Jonathan Williams, 1978 (Photo Sally Mann)

Ray Kass on Eggleston Bridge, 1978 (Photo: John Menapace)


In the Studio in Concord, New Hampshire sitting in front of "Solar System", 1972 (Photo: Russel Banks)

Kass in his studio in Carrboro, NC, 1966.

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