Ingrid Gipson was a successful Dallas fashion executive and designer in the 1980s. She left that world – and her family – behind and retreated into the woods in Oklahoma to pursue an almost obsessive drive to create.
Morrisa Maltz befriended Gipson and spent almost three years making a film about her, “Ingrid.” (It airs Thursday on “Frame of the Mind” on KERA TV.) In State of the Arts this week, I talked to the Dallas filmmaker about the reclusive artist who spends her days making ceramic art and building elaborate structures from rocks she gathers on her property.
Maltz told me that Gipson has blossomed since the film debuted. She accepts visitors and sells her artwork from her property in the Ouachita Mountain countryside. She’s even joined Facebook.
Click above to listen to our conversation, which aired on KERA FM.
Almost everyone can think of a time when they have felt so unhappy with their lives and felt the need to make big changes. But this change was truly radical. Ingrid Gipson completely cut off contact with the world. Why did she need to go to that extreme?
- “Ingrid” airs Thursday, Sept.12 at 10 p.m. on KERA TV.
- Check out the entire “Frame of Mind” season.
How she was brought up was extreme. And I think that it effected her for the rest of her life. So I think when it comes to making the choice, it was something that she felt compelled to lead the life that she wanted to live, given so many things that had happened in her life. And not just [because] she felt fed up, but for reasons that were so much deeper than that.
And then I think on a smaller level, we’ve all felt that feeling of needing to get away. But [this] almost feels like a life and death situation. For her, I think she felt like she could not continue moving forward as the person that she was, living this Dallas lifestyle. She was going to lose her mind if she didn’t follow a path that felt more like her.
So this is what she needed to do, almost to save herself.
Can you describe the place where Ingrid is living?
And she’s also done all the electrical herself. Every bit, this woman has built herself from the ground up and taught herself how to do it. She has her own garden, she kills her own food, so she’s living totally off the grid.
And she’s also adding to her property every day.
She had two children from two different fathers. And she was estranged from both of them. Was that simply because she had left and moved to the woods, or was there more to that story?
But even to this day, I can’t really explain. There wasn’t a snap, or a reason. It was more of her own doing, like she just felt that what was best, was just to cut it off. And then it just kept going, is how she describes it.
How has her life changed since the film came out?
Just like any other human, when your life feels validated in some way, and what you’ve done feels like people pay attention to it or someone cares, it does a lot for you.
She’s honestly a totally different person. I think that she was fulfilled before, but now she’s fulfilled and happy, would be the best way to describe it .
She’s in her 70s now. This is a pretty hard life. Does she intend to stay there?