Happy Monday! Today for #mississippimonday we are featuring a #thimblebestie Ginger Williams Cook! We can not wait to share her story with you! From her whimsical pet portraits to her amazing design work, Ginger is a pretty incredible artist, friend, mother and woman. Read on for more photos and information about the talented lady herself!
Who exactly is Ginger Williams Cook?
I am a visual artist and an arts educator. The next few months will be spent working on some exciting illustration projects that I am antsy to see unfold. In addition to this, I am also working with a friend, Dr. Megan Clapton, with Mindful Therapy, to offer a series of Mindful Watercolor workshops.
My paintings toe the line of where fine art meets kitsch. The majority of the work I create is custom portraits of beloved pets, most commonly, dogs. There is a beautiful connection I have when it comes to painting animals onto a surface. It’s almost as if I can sense their personality from looking at a photo, and this tenderness can be seen and felt. When I am not working on a custom painting, I spend time continuing my visual dialog with the artistic process. My adorable husband, Justin, and I have two pretty great kids: Eloise (4) and Oliver (18 months). We live in the Historic Belhaven Neighborhood in Jackson full of lush foliage and friendly neighbors.
How did you get started and what was the inspiration to take the small business leap?
I have been “at it” my whole life. Being an artist is all I know, but taking the small business leap is relatively new. It has been a priority-having young children-to be flexible and present in daily life. They are only little for such a short time, so it has made sense for me to work from home.
In 2011, I became the Studio Programs Coordinator and Master Teaching Artist at the Mississippi Museum of Art. This position gave me so many incredible opportunities to work with a broad range of participants in an arts education setting. My responsibilities at the museum helped me to outline some goals for my own career path along with providing a predictable schedule during an otherwise roller coaster of what it means to become a first-time parent.
Also during this phase of life, I dedicated a great deal of time to emotional interviews as a featured story line in the HBO Documentary called The Dead Mothers Club. The documentary began before I became pregnant and the filming ended when Eloise was about three months old. It was incredibly painful to share my experience of my mother’s death with the world, but it was also very cathartic to spend so much time thinking and talking about my Mom as I was becoming a mother myself. The poster for the documentary is one of my paintings from 2005 directly dealing with what it’s like to lose a mother.
The world premiere happened on Mother’s Day in 2014, when I was pregnant with Oliver. Knowing that the exposure from HBO would lead to broadening my name and brand, I decided to give myself a year before taking the full leap into becoming a full-time artist. Being able to work from home was manageable until I would have hectic days and have to see unfinished work piling up. Another motivator was the day Eloise expressed her inner artist using a pink marker all over a portrait that was ¾ complete. That day is when I said a special prayer for a studio space outside of my home. Sure enough, God opened a door the month Oliver turned one and I found the studio of my dreams in the Fondren neighborhood-a vital creative hub in Jackson.
How does Mississippi play a role in your business?
“Mississippi is like my mother. I am allowed to complain about her all I want, but God help the person who raises an ill word about her around me, unless she is their mother too.” –Kathryn Stockett, The Help.
Honestly, leaving Mississippi to travel after college was the best decision I ever made. My Uncle and Aunt lived in Paris with my three cousins and welcomed me with open arms. They hosted me for several trips and then helped me with an extended stay in 2007. This experience changed my life. I traveled to Germany, Spain, Austria, but spent the majority of the time in Paris. I remember making the firm decision between going into an MFA program or spending my time wandering around Paris. I chose Paris, and my goal was to draw and paint every single day (all day) and stay in museums until they closed.
My artist friends from Mississippi came to visit me and we hatched plans of new paintings and shows we wanted to create upon my return. I was also falling head over heels in love with my now-husband through a long distance romance.
Even though I returned to Mississippi during the recession, the creative soil here is very fertile. I have a very strong network of creative and passionate friends that call Jackson, Mississippi, home. They are the ones that fight for her good name and work against injustice. The people are the only reason why I love Mississippi. There is a distinct call of collaboration and a call to action in Jackson. My community has made me the artist I am today and I will continue to work in and for Jackson, Mississippi.
What are your goals for your brand?
Art is a conversation that changes. If it didn’t constantly refresh itself and offer new topics, a part of my soul would die. My goals are to just be able to watch my brand strengthen and grow.
What is your background?
I was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. I am just as passionate about teaching art as I am about creating it. In another life, I am pretty sure I pursued a career in the theater. Alas, I chose to major in art because I didn’t think I could make any money as an actress. I earned my BFA from William Carey College in Gulfport, MS, and double majored in painting and drawing because I didn’t just want to do illustration or painting.
Where do you fine inspiration?
I find most of my inspiration wandering around antique malls and flea markets. I am an incredibly sentimental person, and there is something moving about being surrounded by so many objects that have an unknown personal history. Plus it’s a great way to be able to see how trends find ways of resurfacing into current times.
What do you like to do when you aren’t “at the office”?
I like to go sketch or paint somewhere when I am not in the studio. Though I love shopping online, there is nothing I love more than to just spend an entire day shopping. Photos are nice to see, but the act of feeling fabrics and materials in my hands is satisfying. I also love to take my kids to the Natchez Trace nature trails in the jogging stroller or to the Jackson Zoo.
What are you favorite local places to shop and dine?
My idea of a perfect Saturday morning is having breakfast at Broadstreet and visiting Lemuria bookstore. When my husband and I get a night out, we go to Hal and Mal’s (our Cheers). I love having a girls’ night at Caet or dinner at Walker’s Drive-In. My kids LOVE Fondren Fro-Yo. Oh, and we cannot get enough of Green Ghost Tacos.
What are some of the reasons you call Mississippi home?
Family. And friends I consider family. I am so inspired by the many Mississippians that have changed the world: Jim Henson, Oprah, Elvis, to name a few. Hopefully more of Mississippi will be equally inspired by the brave work by countless Civil Rights workers in our state and help Mississippi move forward one step at a time for ALL of its citizens.
How do you think what you are doing is helping to shape your local community as well as the image of Mississippi?
I get to work in a vibrant and creative community in Jackson, called Fondren. The good things from Mississippi past and present reside in the arts: music, cuisine, literature, visual arts. I hope that my presence in the state can help redefine how the world sees Mississippi. Good people are here.
(Yes, this is our fabulous Willow!)
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Don’t you just love everything about her art? Ginger is such an inspiration to us and we are so fortunate to call her our friend! Want to see more updates on Ginger and her AH-MAZING portraits? Check her out here:
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