Ranta is currently teaching drawing and color theory classes at Iowa State University in Ames. She is a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. and has a BFA from the University of Michigan, MFA from the New York Academy of Art and Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford.
Ranta's paintings were on display at the Iowa State Fair last summer and that is where Sanford Museum Associate Director Michele Deiber Kumm saw the paintings and invited Ranta to display her work at the Sanford Museum. The paintings on display at the museum are part of her series depicting everyday life and the complexity of human interaction.
"These paintings are meant to show the realness, vulnerability, and even pleasure of what it means to be a fellow human being" said Ranta.
She approaches her paintings as sort of dramatic plays in which she builds sets, forms characters, and weaves their stories in an out, creating these brief windows into a complex world that the artists says "we need to notice or we see ourselves in."
Each painting begins as idea sketches, after which Ranta finds friends and family to model for the characters. She then draws a finished composition on paper, transfers this onto the panels and paints a burnt umber oil paint under-painting.
The paintings then go though a monochromatic phase in which the black and white values are worked up with black, white and burnt umber oil paint.
The paintings are then layered with multiple thin layers of color until complete. You can see other works of Ranta at www.michelleranta.com.
Her work will be on display throughout the month of January.