Helen Evans Ramsaran (b. 1943) was born in Bryan, Texas. In 1965, Ramsaran received a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education and a Masters of Fine Art in Sculpture from Ohio State University in 1968.
From 1970-73, she was an instructor at Bowie State College, Bowie, Maryland. In 1978, Ramsaran was a visiting artist at Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture in Princeton, New Jersey. She retired as an Associate Professor of Art at John Jay College of the City University of New York.
Throughout her career, Ramsaran has exhibited extensively. Notable solo-exhibitions include: Hughley Gallery (1992, Atlanta); Studio Museum in Harlem (1994, New York); Chrysler Museum of Art (1994, Norfolk); Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba (1998, 2017, New York); Cinque Gallery (2001, New York); American Museum of Natural History (2002, New York); Maplewood Art Center (2010, Maplewood).
Ramsaran has studied and lived throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia. Her practice has been an exploration into issues concerning traditional African architecture and sculptural traditions; spirituality, communal living, extended family, community, rites of passage and, more recently, global warming. Inspiration for her bronze sculpture and works in encaustic on paper evolved out of trips to Africa where she was fascinated by the animals and the various styles of the indigenous, domestic architecture of Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Benin. On the occasion of her solo exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the art critic, writer and curator Okwui Enwezor explained, “Ramsaran’s work is a scrupulous distillation of her experiences while living and traveling through Africa (Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Egypt) in the early eighties. In her sculpture’s spindly, attenuated forms, the body’s essence fills the exhibition space with an explosive, troubling aura.”
Helen Evans Ramsaran’s work has been featured in many landmark exhibitions, such as: The Wild Art Show (1982, MOMA PS 1) Progressions: A Cultural Legacy (1986, MOMA PS1); Slave Routes: The Long Memory (1999, Kenkeleba Gallery, New York); Selections (2000, Skoto Gallery, New York); Assembly /Line:Works by Twentieth Century Sculptors (2002, Mead Art Museum, Massachusetts); Something to Look Forward To (2006, California African American Museum, California); 50 Years/ 50 Gifts (2013, Sheldon Museum of Art, Nebraska); Back to the Future:Contemporary American Art from the Collection (2007, Mead Museum of Art, Massachusetts); Essentia (2016, Taller Boricua, New York); Art of Herstory (2016, Welancora Gallery, New York).
Ramsaran’s work is in the permanent collection of the New Museum, New York; The Sheldon Museum, Nebraska; The Mead Museum, Massachusetts, the Harlem School of the Arts, New York; John Jay College, New York; The College of Staten Island, New York; Ohio State University, Ohio, Brown Management Corporation, Maryland.