One of Newton’s Laws of Motion – a body in motion tends to stay in motion – that’s Grace McGrath. Vibrant, energetic, full of life, she would be the first to admit that she’s a Type A personality. She’s always on the go, volunteering, traveling, giving back to the community.
She starts every weekday with exercise, and becomes a blur of activity from that point on. Retired from the daily grind, she dedicates her time to art and volunteering. ”My life is good and has been good,” says McGrath. “Volunteering and helping others is my way of paying back the goodness.”
McGrath is serious about volunteering. She’s a master gardener with the Cumberland County Cooperative Extension, an Artful Codger for The Arts Council, and artisan and volunteer for the Fayetteville Museum of Art. She even rolls up her sleeve and gives blood every two months.
“Art is not a luxury,” she says. “Life without art would be so bland.”
And bland is not a word you would ascribe to McGrath or her art. Her latest passion is fused and slumped glass which she fashions into wearable art.
The fusing process begins with flat sheets of colored glass that have been tested for compatibility. If the glass layers do not have the same expansion rate, cracking will occur during the cooling process. McGrath creates depth in the pieces she crafts by placing shapes cut from the glass sheets in between layers. Some of the pieces have as many as fourteen layers of glass, but once they are heated in a kiln at a temperature of approximately 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, the glass layers fuse into one solid piece. If certain shapes are desired, the glass layers are placed on molds that when heated cause the glass to slump over the mold.
The designs are as eclectic as the artist. So, what inspires her? For someone who can see the art in a soda can, McGrath sees art everywhere, but she does believe that a lot of her inspiration has come from her travels along with her love for nature and color.
Originally from Brooklyn, McGrath married a military man and spent time in Iran, Italy, France and several other countries before settling in Fayetteville, her home for more than 30 years.
When she returned from the Middle East, she brought an art form back with her. For many years in Fayetteville, she taught Middle Eastern dancing.
“Dancing was always an art form for me,” she says.
She also took up stained glass as a hobby, until it got out of hand. “When my house started looking like a church,” she confesses, “that’s when I knew I had to find an avenue to market my art.” It was then that she got involved with Cape Fear Studios and other artists.
Clearly, the key to McGrath’s happiness in Fayetteville is linked to her involvement in the community.
“I love Fayetteville. There’s so much going on. It’s a very exciting town,” she says. “If anyone says there’s nothing to do in Fayetteville, send them to me!”
McGrath’s designs are on display at the Fayetteville Museum of Art and at Cape Fear Studios, where she is one of the artists in residence.