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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Storytelling in Many Forms

A Native American Proverb is, "Tell me the facts, I'll learn. Tell me the truth, I'll believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in the heart forever." Storytelling comes in many forms, graphic arts, painting, sculpting, writing, all mediums in which Joe Ray weaves together in image-making. Born in San Louis, Sonora, Mexico, Ray moved to Poston, Arizona, on the Colorado River Indian Tribes Reservation near Parker when he was three.

Ray recalls his family always supporting his artist interests, but he recounts, "My high school art teacher Claude Thorn made a significant difference in my honing my direction in the arts and my life." He goes on to explain, "Mr. Thorn pushed me for four years in high school, so I was able to win an art scholarship to college. He told me college would open doors, as well as, my eyes, he was right." Ray earned a BFA in Graphic Design from Arizona State University and experience in illustration, drawing, painting, sculpture, and art history in the process. Once he graduated, his learning from other artists kicked into high gear. Ray chose a career in design and marketing, which resulted in him and his wife owning and operating Maximo Branding in Scottsdale.

"I follow my intuition and imagination. I journal and sketch a lot; much of it is observational as well as intuitive."

Yes, a businessman, but Ray considers himself a creative entrepreneur. In addition to his marketing business, he keeps a home studio where he creates magnificently colorful mono-prints. Mono-prints are a form of printmaking that allows free-form images each time a print is pulled. Unlike printing the same image repeatedly as in block print or relief printing, mono-prints create a uniquely diverse image. When asked about inspiration, Ray states, "I follow my intuition and imagination. I journal and sketch a lot; much of it is observational as well as intuitive. I think about something, then work to bring it to life visually or with words. I love bold and passionate colors in the printing process, and my writings are in Spanish and English because I love the sounds of the languages."

Typically, Ray exhibits 3 or 4 times a year. This may include both solo and group shows he is invited to or juried into for participation. Ray also enjoys speaking to groups, talking about art, the influences of inspiration, and color choice. He also adds, "I do enjoy crossing into other creative areas such as writing which I incorporate into my paintings and monoprints. I also enjoy the art of storytelling, which allows me to engage an audience with word pictures in a performance."

As if Ray is not busy enough, he is a longtime member of Xico, Arte y Cultura. Founded in 1975, the group is the premier cultural institution in Arizona serving Latino and Indigenous artists. Ray does not have an etching press at home, so working in the open studio at Xico provides access to equipment and collaboration with other artists. Joe Ray is a member of the Sonoran Arts League and is participates in the Hidden in the Hills Artists Studio Tour.


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