Category: Interview

Jen Bodine: Analytical Organic Chemist + Artist

Talking about a love of portraiture with CAW member Kate Morgan

IMG_4346Kate Morgan exudes enthusiasm. Her studio at The Columbus Idea Foundry is the incubator for her mixed media portraits. Not confined to one medium, she utilizes painting, printmaking, collage and many other methods to articulate her figures. Elongated limbs, ethereal washes, and emotional tones signify her work. Kate is a relatively new member of CAW, but she is no stranger to art-making, nor the Columbus arts scene. She has been drawing since childhood and never abandoned that practice, even while studying fashion photography at CCAD. Since going full time as an artist, she couldn’t be happier. She is quick to mention the “fierce support” that has helped her get to this point in her career, from both family and friends, as well as other artists in Columbus and beyond. She is compelled to keep painting, drawing, and experimenting – constantly striving to discover the next thing on her artistic horizon.

Bound to You, Vintage map, enamel paint, acrylic paint, gold leaf paint, pencil & gouache on board 18 3/4 inches tall x 43 inches wide | ©2015 Kate Morgan
Bound to You, Vintage map, enamel paint, acrylic paint, gold leaf paint, pencil & gouache on board
18 3/4 inches tall x 43 inches wide | ©2015 Kate Morgan


Have you always drawn figures?

Originally, I was going to school for fashion photography. I would draw out little plans for shoots. Once I got an education about where the bones and muscles are in the body, I very quickly realized the models couldn’t pose like my drawings – it wasn’t humanly possible. So I let the drawings become one thing and the photography became another thing. Even though I studied photography, I have always drawn. A few friends from my high school history class have little drawings from me. It is fun to see those, before my formal education. Now I just let the drawing go free.


What part of the figure have you struggled to draw?

I hate feet. I don’t like them in person and I don’t like to draw them. I’ve always loved portraits, which are traditionally not feet. I accept that as a challenge that I need feet in some works. I try to make them cute to compensate. Like in this painting for example, I made round, little, berry toes. I have to make them not look like feet to trick myself into drawing them.


Your work brings to mind so many different references – Egyptian sculpture, Renaissance paintings, Modigliani’s eyes. What are some favorites of yours?

I run really hot and cold, not just between artists, but also within an artists’ body of work. I will love one piece, but not another. Egon Schiele was my first art guy love. There are things that he does, that just aren’t for me. That’s true for me too. There are some things that I make and it is an immediate no. Right now everyone is saying that I am channeling Gustav Klimt, and I can totally see that.

 

IMG_4348
IMG_4339
IMG_4325
IMG_4329
IMG_4320
IMG_4323


What influences might surprise people?

Folklore and history are both inspiring me lately. I’ve been listening to history and old time radio mystery podcasts. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History goes in depth and is outstanding. Usually I listen to music while at my studio. Since I need to pause podcasts when I get a studio visitor and more often than not, my hands are dripping wet or messy, music is easier in the studio.


How do you approach the gaze of the figures?

I am obsessed with profiles, which I think comes from my love of Egyptian and Greek historical figures. One of my teachers a long time ago pointed out that the figures don’t look at you. That it seemed like they were hiding something. Her words felt like a challenge. It took a couple years to turn their heads. Now I have done some that are directly straight on. I don’t find it challenging any more, but it really did take awhile. For the longest time, I didn’t put pupils in the eyes. Since the eyes are the windows to the souls – if there was nothing there, the figure was just the shell vessel that contained the soul. I have somewhat abandoned this, in part because it really creeped a lot of people out. I now add pupils. To me it makes it look more traditional, which is where most of my references are coming from anyway.

Informer | Right: Madiera Lingers Mixed Media Mono Prints, Editions of 100 | ©2014 Kate Morgan
Informer, Mixed Media Mono Print, Edition of 100 | ©2014 Kate Morgan
Informer | Right: Madiera Lingers Mixed Media Mono Prints, Editions of 100 | ©2014 Kate Morgan
Informer, Mixed Media Mono Print, Edition of 100 | ©2014 Kate Morgan

You obviously embrace experimentation. It helps you stay engaged in your studio practice. When did you begin incorporating found paper?

I started out making acrylic paintings with light washes and several coats of resin or polyurethane. Quite frankly, I was broke due to student loans right after school. I couldn’t afford a color printer, so I started experimenting with mixed media monoprints. I couldn’t print with color, but I could add color as a layer underneath a black and white print. It was at this time that I was getting into incorporating old paper. The historical aspect of it was also really appealing. I have always been into art history. I minored in art history because I had a great teacher who taught all of the surrounding history to explain the relevance of the art. The paper is a textural element, but it also has more to offer – different points of conversation that you can engage someone in. I like the way old things like maps and old wallpaper look. It’s a piece of history in your art. The next step has become collaging more and giving the works more depth. It has been really fun to see people interact with these new works.


What was the impetus to go back to school?

I was working at the photo lab at Wal-Mart. I had fallen down on ebad decisions and some hard times. When you’re not feeling good about yourself, you make little decisions instead of big, good decisions. It took about four years to pick myself up emotionally and financially from that. It also took the courage and self-awareness to know that it was not where I belonged. At the same time, my friend went back to school to CCAD. She got a scholarship and I didn’t realize you could do that as an adult. So I tried too, and I got a scholarship that helped push me.

 

IMG_4333
IMG_4327

 

At what time after school did you realize that you should pursue drawing full time?

Not until a few years ago. The very first show I did was Independents’ Day Festival. I prepared like crazy and brought all my college work and some of those new monoprints I had been making. I think I made $800 and I was thrilled. I initially started doing festivals to pay back my student loans. I had photography in there too, but I only sold three photographs and the rest were paintings and drawings. The more I did it, the more I realized the photography was not fulfilling my need to get dirty and make things with my hands. It was a different level of connection with the work when I was drawing or painting. I was working full time and it took about a year or two for me to quit my job and pursue art. I have been very happy ever since. I’m a giant dork. I make lots of lots of mistakes with my artwork. There are lots of rejects and things go wrong. Sometimes things just don’t work, and I am ok with that. I just want to be happy all the time, making stuff.

 

Ginger Float, Mixed Media Mono Print, Editions of 100 | ©2014 Kate Morgan
Ginger Float, Mixed Media Mono Print, Editions of 100 | ©2014 Kate Morgan

 

Visit KateMorganImageDesign.com to view more of Kate’s portfolio. 

Meet the Truly Pugnacious Artisan, Terri Clow

 

terri

The former Etsy Team Columbus introduced me to quite a few artisans in Central Ohio several years ago.  Among them was this cutie, Terri Clow, owner and creator at Beaniestalk and now Fuzz Butt.  She has participated in several shows I have attended as well as the Falling for Local Show that I coordinated at Franklin Park Conservatory.  We’ve always had lots of laughs and I just love her perkiness, her love of her pugs and the adorable things she makes. We started the interview through email and then I made a trek to her adorable little house to finish up and meet her doggies (Oh, that’s another reason I love this gal…she is a true dog nut, just like me!). And, did I mention that her family has adopted me as an honorary red-headed member!!! LOL!

beaniestalk

Terri grew up in Mansfield where she was the only granddaughter on her mom’s side.  She spent  A LOT of time with that grandma who had a needle in Terri’s hand as soon as she could hold one..LOL!  Fortunately for her (and for those of us who love her work!), grandma was willing to teach her just about any craft she wanted to learn resulting in them tackling every craft out there and constant creation!!!  Who needs formal art training when you have that??

And, as if that wasn’t enough, her paternal grandmother taught her how to crochet.  Although she didn’t pick that skill up again till later in life, she admits that it has definitely become an addiction.  According to her, ‘I really tortured my family by making them some pretty bad hats and scarves when I was first relearning crochet! Hey guys you can throw all those ugly hats away now!’

Getting kisses from R.C.
Getting kisses from R.C.

Although she has a major in English from OSU and originally wanted to be a librarian, she didn’t pursue that field. Like so many of us, she opted for the English major rather than pursuing her artistic bent because it seemed like a ‘safer’ option for being able to support yourself after graduation. She wasn’t too thrilled with settling down to a 9-5 at that juncture in her life so, instead, for several years she worked in retail and as a bartender before she decided she better ‘grow up’, get a 9-5 and buy the cute little house she now owns. And, somehow, she ended up in IT…it just happened!!! First she worked at Alliance Data Systems and now she works at DSW.  Over the years, she took classes and moved from the call center to her current job of business analyst where she helps business and programmers ‘talk’ to each other. She says that this type of job feeds her Virgo side and fulfills her need to be analytical, helping to balance the more creative side of her personality.

Of course, we also had to talk about another love of ours: DOGS! She adopted one pug and that led to getting involved in a local pug rescue and getting 2 more pugs!!! Like me, she ended up fostering a bunch of pups…14 to be exact for her!  And we had to swap stories about how we got our babies, the silly things they do and how we couldn’t imagine life without them.

Beaniestalk at Urban Emporium
Beaniestalk at Urban Emporium

She says she doesn’t know if she ever consciously made the decision to “do art” or “be creative”…it was just something she grew up doing.Actually, she cannot remember a time when she wasn’t making something, a time when she didn’t have a stash of fabric, yarn, art and craft supplies. Sound familiar to anyone?? HEHE! Read more

Meet the Queen of Glitter(acy): Chelsea Dipman

There are so very many incredibly talented female Columbus based artists that I am never at a loss for interview for CAW’s blog.  This young lady is one of them!

chelsea pic

 Glitteracy and Chelsea Dipman and I were introduced to one another last spring at the first professional Not Your Mama’s 614 Craft Exchange held by Chelsea Hill and Carrie Schaefer. Not only did we all have a lot of fun but we got some pretty amazing items made by some pretty cool ladies, including Chelsea D….I loved her Ohio themed goodies and her great sense of humor so I asked her if she would be interested in an interview, of course! Then we ran into each other a bunch of places and finally, after several unsuccessful tries, met at Pies and Pints and got down to it!

CBUS Buckeyes

Chelsea started her business, Glitteracy, in late November of 2014 but she has been a creative soul for a lot longer. As she puts it:

Ever since I was little I would save things destined for the trash to make into art. My mom sensed I loved art so much she put me in lessons at CCAD Saturday morning. I knew I wanted to keep being creative and being scared about going out into the world as an artist, I decided that I would also follow my passion for teaching.

Glitteracy logo glitter mint

Originally from Gahanna on the east side of Columbus, Chelsea stayed in the area for studies at Ohio Wesleyan University where she received a B.F.A. with a concentration in painting and a minor in education. She was lucky and talented enough to graduate with a teaching job lined up to teach elementary art in Marion, Ohio 3 years ago. Although it is a trek to get to work every day from Columbus, she absolutely loves her job and loves the interaction with all of the children in her school. She filled me in on all of the new requirements for new teachers and I must say that I am sure glad that I started my career when all of this wasn’t happening! It amazes me how much is expected from newbies due to the new state regs…a topic for another day…ugh! That being said, she says that her students truly inspire her creativity.

Charcoal Grey Bella Slouchy Tank

Other small business successes she observes also inspire her entrepreneurial bent. She comes by this entrepreneurship quite honestly from her mom who set a great example by going back to school while Chelsea was a kid and then started her own Physical Therapy business. Having done over 20 shows since starting her business in 2014, she has also made connections with lots of other artisans and learned a thing or two about selling in local stores, doing shows and how to get your name out there. Definitely, this lady is not afraid to try just about anything at least once as evidenced in the number of shows she has already participated in! Of course discussing all of these shows led to a long talk about the pros and cons of doing shows, especially outdoors. After the ins and outs of Central Ohio weather this year, she is definitely ready to start the indoor circuit. However, none of the negatives have been a deterrent for this tenacious young lady!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

She says her art is constantly evolving and changing, but Glitteracy has always focused on a love for home and Ohio because she wanted to create something that everyone could appreciate and was simple yet narrative. Getting to the point in her young career where people want to give the things she makes as gifts and/or put them in their homes, has really been exciting: It’s a really gratifying feeling having your work sent out into Ohio and across America. Her creative process goes this way…glitter, watercolor, gold, mint, hand lettering rinse & repeat.

Logo created for local business, Sol Heritage, owned by Heather Lewis and Sherry Waldman
Logo created for local business, Sol Heritage, owned by Heather Lewis and Sherry Waldman

She says:

I am constantly learning new things from others and from teaching myself. I have recently taken my lately paper based work and have bridged into the digital realm. It’s really magical when you can manipulate and improve something you made by hand.

chelsea

In the short period of time that she has had her business, she has managed to get her art into many local venues including Simply Vague-Polaris Fashion Place & Tuttle Mall, Celebrate Local, Wholly Craft, Pure Roots and Button-Up..think she’s found her niche! Plus she’s selling her wares at many local shows: Grandview Hop in August and then in September the Downtown Dublin Bazaar, Made Local Marketplace & Moonlight Market, Independent’s Day and Worthington Market Day! Busy lady!!! And as if that isn’t enough, she’s also received recognition from Ohio Creative Collective and Celebrate Local via articles about her business!

Wherever I may roam
But Glitteracy is not all there is to this multi-faceted teacher. She also does commissioned water colors and loves figurative painting and has shown this genre at RAW: Columbus and the City Arts Center in Delaware (check some of that work at: https://chelseapaints.wordpress.com/). She would love to eventually be able to have a dedicated studio (not really feasible now on a teacher’s salary!) and do more of this type of work. And, somewhere down the road, she hopes to be able to make art her full-time gig. Something tells me that if she wants it, eventually she’s gonna make it happen cause she is definitely a go-getter!

FB_IMG_1432346312788

 

And the holiday season will be a busy one for this creative lady as she will be selling her wares at the following shows:

Craftin Outlaws- November 14th, Columbus Handmade- November 22, Not Your Mamas Craft Show- November 28, Avant Garde- December 5 and Made Local Marketplace December 12….whew!!! No excuse to not get your Ohio themed goodies for holiday gifts this year!!!
A little more about this creative lady? Her hair is currently lavender to blonde, she loves craft beer, she loves cheese and fruit combos on her pizza and she’s looking for Mr. RIGHT…’HaHa… just kidding that was to make you laugh!!!!’

 

Contact for readers:

Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/glitteracy
Instagram: @glitteracyart
Email: ckdipman@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/glitteracy

Pattycake, Pattycake, Baker’s Girl and Amazing Artist to Boot: Jen Wrubleski

jenTacocat‘s artists have been in the pipeline ever since they celebrated another birthday in their Grandview digs. I have interviewed Larry Doyle, Lisa McLymont, Adam Brouilette, Christopher Burk and now it’s time for Jen Wrubleski. I have looked forward to this interview for quite a while because I love her take on cats and her sense of humor is quirky and fun!

So here goes…
Jen and I have met several times at Tacocat events and then I found out she works at Pattycake (yummmmmmmm) with a friend of mine. The fact that she loves cats and cakes makes her a winner right there for me! But wait, as I interviewed her, I found out we even had more in common!

Let’s get to know her a little better…she has lived many places: Pennsylvania (woot!), Washington and then Williamstown WV…too funny, I lived right across the bridge from there years ago (way before her time!) in Marietta OH! So, of course, we had to talk about the joys of living in a little itsy bitsy town! Attending CCAD brought her to Columbus and she likes it so much she has never left…lucky for us!
jen with cake
As she puts it, “I started off drawing silly pictures of cats when I was a little kid and now, after years of art school and professional experience, I’m still drawing silly pictures of cats.” Of course, we had to compare notes about cats and even shared pics of our favorite felines in their silliness. She just LOVES CATS and would love to have 27 of them in 10 years…a girl after my own heart!
jen w cats

After graduation with an illustration major, she landed what was supposed to be a part-time gig at Pattycake Bakery that turned into a full time job that she loves. Not only does she work there, she is part owner as this bakery is a co-op business and she is the most recent of 7 owners/employees. Over the time she has worked there, she has worked her way up to the positions of head cake decorator decorating custom cakes and cake-by-the-slice. This job is creatively rewarding to her and she loves the fact that she has creative control over what she does even though she has no formal training in the field. And the other perk is that her “job” doesn’t interfere with her work as an artist, they sorta play off each other.
jen W

Jen’s art business is titled Jen Wrubleski Illustration and her first studio was at the now defunct Junctionview in Grandview. When several of those artists moved to Tacocat, it felt only natural to move there with them. Having a dedicated studio is important to her because it helps her focus on her work (rather than doing laundry, playing with the cats, etc!) Ordinarily, she spends about 20-25 hours a week in her studio creating. Being part of a collective is also important to her as she expressed that having other artists to bounce ideas off of has helped her evolve in a way that might not have been possible if she worked alone.
jen w mr. a vocado

When asked to categorize her art, her first response was ‘I like to joke that my specialty is “glueing stuff to stuff” ‘ But when pushed to be a little more serious she stated that she loves using alternative methods and materials in making her art.In that vain, she strongly encourages artists to bend the rules and try new ways to make artwork rather than sticking with only the tried and true techniques. Most of her works are tactile illustrations that are made by layering graphic shapes with more involved patterns. Inspiration comes form the colors, shapes, and textures of the world around her.

As her website states:
She meticulously collages mundane materials like wallpaper, decorative papers, and buttons into colorful storybook scenes. Her bizzarely adorable characters are bright and cheery, yet they all have a slightly mischievous glint in their eyes. As a viewer, she invites you to create your own stories about these whimsical images.

She’s tried some new techniques lately and perfected some using wood panels because they make it easier to apply more layers. She is particularly fond of re-purposing paper materials. She builds layers of paper with thin glazes and sanding between them to give more depth to her works. Keeping several pieces going at the same time so she has the time to tweak them and view them over time rather than focusing on one piece at a time.

Jen at Chalk the Block 2013
Jen at Chalk the Block 2013

Over the last few years, she has had shows at Haiku Restaurant and Brothers Drake Meadery and participated in Chalk the Block in Easton…she will be participating in this event again next weekend. Just recently she had an exhibit of her vegetable works at North Market. She and fellow Tacocat member, Claire Smith also were the curators of a yummy little show that I had the honor of participating in at the gallery called Snack Time.

As for what the future holds for her and her art, she says she is a ‘baby step’ kinda person with no grand plans just continued focus on her art.

pinot
Pinot

And of course, there was more humor from this quirky and cute young lady when I asked her is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you? Any suggestions for other questions that should be added to interviews? and her response was:
Let’s just talk about my cat for the whole interview. Gotta love this girl!!!

Jumping for Joy
Jumping for Joy

Contact info for readers:
www.jenwrubleski.com

Talking about color, calm, and clouds with CAW member Betsy DeFusco

Edited_Betsy_IMG_3901Betsy DeFusco has called a studio on Spring Street in downtown Columbus her artistic headquarters for over twenty years. Her colorful paintings evolve one thin layer at a time. Across all of her series, light emanates from within each work. Her careful application of the paint achieves this goal, as well as a sense of calm and serenity. This is especially apparent in her Light Crossings series which feature overlapping stripes. In some paintings within this series, a calligraphic line cuts across the canvas in a playful gesture. This push and pull between planning and spontaneity mirrors how she approaches a new painting. I recently visited Betsy at her studio while she was preparing for an upcoming studio sale. This was cause to revisit past work, providing a road map of her artistic journey.

 

Palancar by Betsy DeFusco
Palancar by Betsy DeFusco

 

After studying art education at the University of Dayton, you didn’t teach, but rather worked in fashion illustration and then started a business drawing house portraits. Do any of those endeavors play a residual role in your work today?

The residual effect is that I used pen, ink and transparent watercolor for that early work, and I still prefer working on a white background. I work on a gessoed, white background and try to let the light come through. I also really like line, and I am always trying to figure out how to get more line into the work, harkening back to those pen and ink sketches. I learned the line drawing at my first job at a department store doing fashion art. That was so much fun. Party job!

What pushed you to make the leap from illustrative drawings to painting?

I knew I could probably have a bigger business if I kept going with the house portraits and prints I was doing, but I wanted to progress further and learn how to oil paint. So I went to CCAD and enrolled in painting classes. I loved it because it was a brand new medium. I had used acrylics, but I had never used oil and I liked it so much more. When my friend Marti invited me to share studio space at 55 E. Spring Street I jumped at the chance. I had always worked at home when my children were young, but I was ready to have a studio away from my house.

What was the first subject matter that you painted?

When I was about nine I painted a beautiful tree that stood alone in a field behind my house. I remember thinking I had to get it down on paper, it was so lovely! Fast forward many years to when I started in my studio, I painted landscapes and clouds followed by a bit of collage, always two-dimensional. The first time I did anything three-dimensional was in graduate school when I cut openings into my paintings. Some openings were closed off in the back, and some were open. I also experimented with different depths.

 

Edited_IMG_3922
Edited_IMG_3895
Edited_IMG_3917
Edited_IMG_3919

 

What was the significance of opening up the panels in that way?

I wanted another element in there since my work was getting very minimal. At graduate school, anything we put in our paintings was questioned to death. We had to answer every question about why each element was there. I could never do that, so my work became very minimal and still is, in a way. I believe in ‘less is more.’ The challenge comes in making works that still have a certain complexity. I got the idea for the openings in part because I was studying Asian Art. I was thinking a lot about Buddhism and Taoism. In Taoism, there is a quote about how it is not the jar that is important, but the empty space inside the jar. “We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.” Also, “We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.” To me the opening represents our inner thoughts and dreams, and also refers to all the unanswered questions in our lives.

After you finished graduate school, you abandoned minimalism a little and returned to clouds. Why is that?

They had been forbidden in graduate school (”already done”) so I had to go back and do them. Which just shows you really have to do what you want to do. But then they became limiting. Any time I got too close to realism there was some structure I wanted to break out of. So I did the clouds in different colors, and then started my Pine Creek series that depicted reflections in water. Eventually I realized that it was more about the color than it was about the subject matter. That is when I started painting stripes and just playing with colors.

Yes, Yellow by Betsy DeFusco
Yes, Yellow by Betsy DeFusco
Crescent Beach by Betsy DeFusco
Crescent Beach by Betsy DeFusco

 

 

How would you define the category of painting your work adheres to most?

Landscape. Some of the big paintings in the Light Crossings series are more landscape-like. It is about the light in the sky and the earth. When I look at my painting I see sky, water and land, even if no one else does. I think many artists today try to straddle the line between abstraction and representation in an interesting way so that it’s not one or the other. That is kind of the big challenge for two-dimensional painters now. How do you refer to reality in a new and unique way that might be a little unexpected.

Your studio mates describe you as very orderly – with all of your brushes in a row. How would you describe your studio practice?

That is true! I cannot work if there is a mess around me. The ideal is that you come in every day and you put everything else out of your mind and just work with the paint. If things happen, they happen. I like to start early, but sometimes it is easier if I get things done at home first and come in with a clearer mind. I like to come in, put music on, fool around a bit, and just start working. I work on big things and little things at the same time. If I am getting ready for a show, I work on ten to twenty pieces at once. I find it helpful since I paint with oil. I like to use thin layers – so I do a thin layer, set it aside, and come back the following day and paint another thin layer.

 

Edited_IMG_3883
Edited_IMG_3887
Edited_IMG_3908
Edited_IMG_3915

 

How many layers do you think are on any given painting?

Probably at least forty to fifty. It seems like I work on some of them for a really long time, so it is hard to say exactly. I am a thin painter. I have tried to put the paint on thick, but I just can’t do it even though I love when other people do it. Maybe it is the whole minimalistic style of my work. I like calm and I don’t want that bumpiness. I also can’t paint fast. Just like the thick paint, I like it when people do, but I can’t seem to. I am reading a book called A Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman. It about the painter Camille Pissarro and his mother and there is a quote I just love. “Jestine had told me never to rush something I was creating, but instead to let it come into being as if it had a soul of its own.” Not sure why the quote struck me so, except that I love to spend time with each piece, and take my time. And, I love looking at work where you know that time was spent making it.

What artists inspire you?

My favorite artist is Richard Diebenkorn. He had three distinct phases: abstraction with a lot of movement, figurative, and color fields. I was thinking I was getting tired of him, but then I saw his work again in Washington DC a few years ago and it was breathtaking. I find it very healing to see those large areas of color, and I love his use of line. There are a lot of grays in his work, like in the paintings of Matisse. I am just starting to learn about the different grays you can get by mixing oil paints. I still go back to him and look at the colors. His figurative and representational work is also really nice.

What makes you want to paint more?

Painting is always an unanswered question. It is an adventure.

Emerging Young Female Artist: Brie Mullins

 

IMG_20141112_154227_972-2

I fell in love with this young lady’s work the first time Brie Mullins post her ‘doodles during study hall’ photos on the FB page of the Art and Artists of 614 and have been enthralled with her take on art and her phenomenal talent!  Even though she is ‘only’ in high school, her work is unbelieveable!! And, wise beyond her years and an old soul are only a few of the words I could use to describe her. Sooo,  I asked her to take some time to do an interview and she graciously accepted.

IMG_20150221_214606_007 (1)

Currently, she is enrolled as a junior at West Jeff High School but has taken some summer classes at CCAD in comic book design and drawing.  That was several years ago and, not meaning to toot her own horn, she feels that taking any more classes offered for her age group really wouldn’t provide her with much as she feels that she has moved beyond their scope.

Last summer, she participated in Summer Jam at Westgate and was quite successful selling her work.  With that under her belt, she has been selling her art and doing commission work.   During this school year, she’s been keeping up with creating more art, maintaining the 6 instruments ( yes, I said 6!) she plays, completing academic work along with the necessary steps to become an exchange to student to Spain this coming school year. Not surprisingly, she was accepted and will be leaving for a year in Spain at the end of August (I leave at the end of August and will be gone for a year so don’t forget about me in Ohio, okay?…like we could, right?)

IMG_20150418_161127_601

She also entered the Governor’s Art show and got two pieces into the Top 275 with one of the pieces (Cupid’s Mistake), bought by Thad Ricker to be put on permanent display at the Ohio Department of Education  building. Whoa!!!  She’s  also been featured at the newly opened  Pies & Pints in the Short North during May and  has been chosen  to be featured again in August. BUT before all of that happened, back in middle school, she won the honor of a work of her art being featured in her school’s library until she  graduated from eighth grade. AND, she’s received honor recognition her  whole school career ( practically all A’s) with the additional recognition of Gifted in Art by the state of Ohio while in elementary school. Let me ask you, what had YOU accomplished by the time you were a junior in high school?  I sure know that I wasn’t mature enough to accomplish all of this by that tender age!!! Read more

Talking about process and portraiture with CAW member Barb Vogel

Barb_15Barbara Vogel is a champion for others, so it is no surprise that the faces that fill her portraits are close friends and family. Her artistic evolution is firmly rooted in photography, but her willingness to experiment with photographic processes and incorporate other media result in entirely original works. Barb’s studio is filled with these visual tangents, as well as a solid coat of wax encaustic. Most recently she has been “scanning” faces and flora, with a document wand and then coating the prints with encaustic. The results are ghostly images that cast their subjects in a whole new light. She was recently awarded an Ohio Arts Council Award at the Ohio State Fair’s Fine Arts Exhibition for her portrait, Ursula Dazing, made with this process.

When I visited her studio, Barb had just sent off a large body of work for her solo exhibition, Preserved, at the Southern Ohio Museum & Cultural Center in Portsmouth, Ohio. The exhibition runs from September 26 to December 5, 2015 and the opening reception will be September 26, 3:00-5:00 pm.

Barb_14

You studied painting for your BFA, fine art photography for your MFA, as well as working as a photographer for OSU’s Medical Center. Can you describe your career and creative trajectory?

I had to earn a living. I went to commercial photography school after my BFA and got a job at OSU. Technique and technical tied it all together – and a certain confidence with material. I combine both painting and photography in my work now.

You are attracted to mediums (photography and encaustic) that are very process –oriented. What about the rhythm or cycle of the processes draws you to these mediums?

I miss the photo co-op that a group of us started when I taught at Columbus State. Nothing was better than to turn on music in the dark room and think you’re productive as you just go through the motions of printing. It is the same with a process of fusing the wax. And if you like the process, art evolves.

After focusing on photography and painting, how did you come to encaustic?

Ellen Bazzoli has a studio downstairs from me and she was working in encaustic. She offered to do a mini workshop for me. When you are working in photography people say, if you’re stuck you should change formats. I liked the wax and I liked what Ellen was doing. She said, “Come down. I’ll show you some basics.” She spent a day with me – how to use photographs and paper with the encaustic. I started experimenting and I was doing everything wrong, until a recent workshop at the Cultural Arts Center. I had a lot of waste since I was using the wrong tools. I would scorch prints, but my new little pink heat gun is great!

Barb_11
Barb_05
Barb_02
Barb_08


You worked closely with a team at OSU and have shared a studio for over two decades with the artist Marti Steffy. How did those communities shape your work?

The writers that I worked for at OSU gave me words or thoughts. If you don’t say something in your own language it isn’t as obvious. It helped to be with writers and talk about things. We still get together. I also worked closely with the photographer, Kojo Kamau. We shared a darkroom, as opposed to being behind a computer, so we could hide and talk. I learned so much from our darkroom conversations. Working closely in the studio with Marti, we both have had visual training and when we are stuck we both know where we’ve been. Rather than spending a week trying to solve a problem, she can see it for me and I can see it for her! It helps to be with other people for another eye. And it helps if you have a history with them. Studio mates and CAW members, Betsy DeFusco and Sandra Aska, have been helpful too. Our history is a bit newer, but they are wonderful sounding boards.

People familiar with your work might know you for your altered photographs on wood. Can you describe the process for your high school class series?

I take a picture of a picture on film. After processing the film, I expose the image with an enlarger in my darkroom onto an emulsion-covered piece of wood. I then carve and paint. When I have multiple wood images like my high school classes, then the compositional nightmare begins trying to arrange wooden squares.

You are comfortable with both film and digital cameras. Within the past few years you began utilizing a document scanner in your work. How did you come to use this office supply scanning wand as a tool for fine art?

I bought the document scanner for $69.95, to experiment with for a Vermont residency. I thought, oh I might try some flat things. Prior to Vermont, I stopped at my sister’s house in Maine and started scanning dogs and hair and other seemingly flat things, but kept getting error messages. I thought, I could put glass in front of this, it would be smooth. With the glass, I started scanning people.

Esther by Barb Vogel
Esther by Barb Vogel
Cody by Barb Vogel
Cody by Barb Vogel

 

What about faces seemed to be so striking?

I have done many portraits for and outside the hospital. What makes a portrait dynamic is a certain unmasking – when you capture that person. Using the wand is a slower process. They have this eerie lighting quality that shocked me at first. I printed them as wide as the scanner, so it is full frame so to speak. There’s a haunting quality about them.

When you printed the scans, what necessitated the encaustic coating?

Before the wand scanner, I did a series where everything was out of focus, using my Hasselblad camera. I took images of people out of focus, because everything in my life was out of focus. Everything didn’t sync. I was stressed, tired, and depressed. I then scanned the color negatives, printed them, and covered them with wax. Once again I was in the studio, working on multiple projects and I was waxing up a painting and I waxed the photograph and I liked it. They were strange to begin with, but the wax added that other worldly quality. My work now is a little more in focus perhaps because my life is a little more in focus.

Do you think of your work more as documentary or commentary? Or some combination thereof?

Perhaps they are one in the same. I do bodies of work. Right now I am studying botanicals and the way the hand-held wand lights the plant. Whether you focus on feet or abandoned buildings, you explore that subject. So maybe the word should be exploratory. Good question, sometimes I just do, but need to be more reflective and verbal as to why.

Barb_06
Barb_12
Barb_09
Barb_01


When I think of botanicals I think of small, scientific renderings. How are you approaching the subject?

I photograph or scan my own little garden plot – tomatoes, cosmos and long-stem zinnias. Each process is interesting. The lighting is so strange with the scanner – I have to wait until sunset otherwise the image is so overexposed. The shooting process is also interesting. With the plants you don’t have to meet with anybody at a certain time. The plants aren’t demanding. They don’t talk to you.

When you were at OSU you studied folk art and material culture and you have a great collection of folk and outsider art. What attracts you to this work?

When I went to graduate school in the 90’s there was this whole movement against the mainstream acceptance of different things in our material culture. I’d always had traditional training in my undergraduate years by male artists and I never had any female instructors. In the 70’s art was about painting and all about abstract expressionism. So folk art was the antithesis of what you were supposed to produce – of what was accepted. Traditional art school had certain formulas and you didn’t do personal work. When I quoted “The personal is political.” some guy laughed at me. Folk art opened up this different view of what we made and why we made it. Leslie Constable, a writer, and I were going to grad school at the same time. We collaborated – I did portraits and she wrote about folk artists around Ohio for a book project. This project taught me there was more art outside of academic art programs.

Visit www.barbvogel.net to view more of Barb’s portfolio.

Light Clematis by Barb Vogel
Light Clematis by Barb Vogel
Money Tree Plant
Money Tree Plant by Barb Vogel

Talking about the third dimension with CAW member Kristin Morris

KMorris_PortraitThe wheels are always turning in the artistic mind of Kristin Morris. Her studio is full of pieces and parts she has culled from garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores. These wooden parts may be the base for a sculpture or integrated into the spine of a skeleton. Working in three dimensions is primary to her practice, and she deftly experiments with different sculpting materials and assemblage. Kristin’s mother is a potter and her father is a geologist so it’s only natural that the process and rigor needed in both of those fields is apparent in her work. Her sculptures skirt the line between dark and light, as well as playful and more serious. Her home studio is full of inspiring projects all on the cusp of coming to life.

 

KMorris_Remnants
Installation for the exhibition Remnants by Kristin Morris (Photo credit: Caroline Kraus)


You created a school of fish that included found objects embedded within their ceramic bodies for Remnants. What was the most challenging part of that project?

The most challenging part of the Remnants project was figuring out the best way to hang the fish. I had some good ideas about the styles, types of fish, and found objects that I wanted to use – which I think worked out fairly well – but I’m still finding my way with ceramic techniques. I had some help with technical issues from Eric Raush, my ceramics teacher at the Cultural Arts Center.

How did you get your start in sculpture? What attracted you to working in three dimensions? 

I have been making things in clay since I was about 5 or 6 years old when I made little snakes to bring to art and craft shows. My mom is a potter who has done fairs my whole life, and I wanted something to sell, too. I have always loved clay because I grew up around it and I love the feel of it in my hands. It can be manipulated into any form or shape you desire – the possibilities are endless!  When I was little I had a sandbox in the backyard and I had more fun making “mud pies” in the dirt outside of the sandbox than in the sandbox!

KMorris_06
KMorris_03
KMorris_05

 

You created a school of fish that included found objects embedded within their ceramic bodies for Remnants. What was the most challenging part of that project?

The most challenging part of the Remnants project was figuring out the best way to hang the fish. I had some good ideas about the styles, types of fish, and found objects that I wanted to use – which I think worked out fairly well – but I’m still finding my way with ceramic techniques. I had some help with technical issues from Eric Raush, my ceramics teacher at the Cultural Arts Center.

How did you get your start in sculpture? What attracted you to working in three dimensions? 

I have been making things in clay since I was about 5 or 6 years old when I made little snakes to bring to art and craft shows. My mom is a potter who has done fairs my whole life, and I wanted something to sell, too. I have always loved clay because I grew up around it and I love the feel of it in my hands. It can be manipulated into any form or shape you desire – the possibilities are endless!  When I was little I had a sandbox in the backyard and I had more fun making “mud pies” in the dirt outside of the sandbox than in the sandbox!

After studying studio art, you continued your studies in 3D illustration at CCAD. How would you define that way of working?

After I graduated from college, I saw the annual Student Show at CCAD and was immediately drawn to the 3D Illustration work in the exhibit. I signed up for 3D Illustration and took it every semester that I was there. I learned to make molds, work in resins, foam and latex, and was invited to spend a summer working with my teacher – Mark Hazelrig – and 8 students sculpting characters for an amusement park haunted house. While in the class we also made a life size “chess set” of Alice In Wonderland vs. The Wizard Of Oz and sculptures of Roman gods on columns – all out of foam and latex. I had a great experience in that class and learned a lot of valuable skills that helped me later on working for a company making figures and props for haunted houses and an effects studio constructing a ride for a large water park out west.

KMorris_08
KMorris_07
KMorris_01

 

You are very prolific, working on several projects all at once. Is this always how you work? 

I’m always working on several things at once. I get bored doing the same thing for a long time if I don’t mix it up a little bit! I love to sculpt more than anything- but I also love to paint my sculptures. I go back and forth between these two things a lot!

You took a workshop with the sculptor, Janis Mars Wunderlich last year. What was your biggest takeaway from this experience? 

I learned some sculpting techniques from Janis, and she also talked a lot about glazes and underglazes.  Unfortunately I didn’t spend as much time listening to this part because I paint all of my sculptures with acrylics.  It was great to go in every day and see what everyone else was doing and most amazing to watch her sculpt and just see the way she approaches each piece. I’m in awe of her knowledge of clay and her active imagination!  I always thought her work was so strange but when I actually heard her talk about it – it really made a lot of sense. I could see where the stories and ideas found their way into her work! I also really enjoyed visiting her studio (at her house) and seeing where everything comes to life.

You have said that Walter Herrmann describes your work as “playfully macabre.” Why is this a fitting description? How do you describe your work? 

I think “playfully macabre” is a perfect description of my work! It is somewhat edgy, dark, scary, and weird, but it has a lighter side to it – a fun side. It’s not malicious or gruesome or mean-spirited in any way. I think one of the worst things to me is when someone walks up at a show and says “Oh, it’s so cute!”  That drives me crazy!  I admit, I have made some cute things, and I still do, but there is a time and place for that. The majority of my work is not on the cute side. More often than not people say to me it reminds them of Tim Burton – which I take as a compliment.

A sculpture of a tortoise created by Kristin Morris at a workshop led by Janis Mars Wunderlich at the Cultural Arts Center
A sculpture of a tortoise created by Kristin Morris at a workshop led by Janis Mars Wunderlich at the Cultural Arts Center

 

You work in a variety of 3D mediums, including clay, apoxie sculpt, latex and more. What determines the material for a given project? 

The given material for a project depends on what its use will be. I used to make latex hand puppets but there wasn’t a big market for those. Apoxie Sculpt is one of my favorite mediums to work with but it has a faster set-up time so sometimes I will use Super Sculpey instead. For instance, if I am working on a face that could take a while. Apoxie sculpt is heavier too, so if you’re doing something light it’s not the best option.  However, it’s really strong and it’s self-hardening – no oven or kiln needed – which is great!  It’s awesome for working with found objects and adhering things together when glues just won’t do. I love stoneware clay (pottery clay) – I am developing more skills as I continue working with it.

Since you work in so many materials, how do you organize your home studio spaces?

I have a downstairs studio in my basement for stoneware clay and painting; in my studio/computer room upstairs I have a large table I use for other types of clay sculpting such as Apoxie Sculpt, Super Sculpey, and materials that aren’t messy.

What project is next for you? 

Up next I will be in the Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival in September. In October, I will be a featured artist at the Oakland Nursery Gift Shop in New Albany (Johnstown Rd.) during the Fall Festival weekend. In October of 2016 I will be in a show with Debbie Loffing and Kate Morgan at the Vanderelli Room.

Meet Bohemian and Bodacious Mixed Media Artist: Jennifer Lee of Jendalynn Art

jennifer leeMixed media is a passion of mine along with flowers, drawings of women but combining all of them is just the best!!!!  So when I saw some of the work Jennifer Lee posted on the Art and Artists of 614 Facebook page, I was in love!  We first started our conversation online but then, I was lucky enough to hang out with her at her adorable little apartment/studio for a couple of hours. We found out that we have lots in common like loving animals, doing mixed media work and being Steeler fans!   We talked about so many things and I had a thoroughly delightful time with this young lady.
Flora
Flora
Her studio/brand/shop name is Jendalyn, after a nickname coworkers gave her.  She secretly began working on Jendalyn Art in the summer of 2011, a year into a 9-5 office job that was draining her spirit. It was her getaway plan, a master plan which was going to allow her to quit that abyssmal  job and live a life doing what she truly loves. For a while, it just seemed like a pipe dream… some days believing  it would never happen. However, she took the plunge anyway, and quit that office job in September of 2012. While it has not always been easy, Jendalyn turned into her full-time gig  and she has never looked back, lucky girl!!!  However, we did talk about the realities of being a ‘starving artist’, how to promote yourself in a positive manner and being ‘broke as a joke’ but living an authentic life rather than settling for what everyone else thinks is the ideal life.  Sometimes that translates into not having the money for rent, having your utilities turned off, etc. but Jennifer would rather that then live life on others’ terms.
Wanderbloom
Wanderbloom
Originally from Syracuse New York, her family moved to Springboro Ohio (suburb of Dayton) in 1993.  Eventually, she moved to Columbus to attend Ohio State, double majoring in Fine Art and History of Art. While there have been a couple opportunities to move, Columbus is my home. I love it here. She stated that she would like to get more involved in the Columbus art scene, make connections and network, as she sometimes feels isolated working from home and hasn’t really established a presence with her work locally.  That being said, most of her customer base has been online and she has managed to scrape out a living from that.  That led to a discussion about local art groups, galleries and how to get your art out there.  Something that many of the artists I have interviewed struggle with.  Trying more crafty venues like suburban art shows and craft fairs has not resulted in increased exposure (again something I hear often!) and so that left the question of how do you get your art out there?  Unfortunately, many graduates with fine arts degrees have expressed that their education did not include how to sell what you create, social media or anything approaching that…bummer!
Voyager 2
Voyager 2
However, art is something that has always been a huge part of her life. “I always tell this story about how when I was in fourth grade, our teacher gave us an assignment to draw what we wanted to be when we grew up. Then she hung all of the drawings on a wall in our classroom. I drew an artist, and the kids in my class laughed at me and said, “That’s not a real job.” Artists get that a lot.” Even when studying art in college, there was no talk about how to find gainful employment as an artist.   No marketing, no branding and no real training in how to turn her passion into her vocation (sadly, something I’ve heard from many artists!) So, instead of pursuing art, she became a bartender for a few years, then took the office job that changed everything. It was the 9-5 stable job that everyone seems to think is the goal in life… and I hated it!!! That job made her realize being an artist was the only route for her!
a work in progress
a work in progress
How does she categorize her art??  Busy, bright, bold, bohemian. Everything is mixed media, because she has a decision making problem…hehe!  So she just uses anything and everything she can get her hands on. “I’ve received a lot of criticism about this, that it’s “too much.” But, it’s me. It’s what I love.”
Her home studio
Her home studio
A lot of her inspiration comes from the natural world…tiny miracles that surround us every single day. “The way the wind sounds when it blows through the trees, the warmth of sunlight on your skin, the smell of flowers.” She states that she is incredibly inspired by connectivity within the universe, that we are made of the same things as the stars.  An art journal/sketchbook  is one of her most prized possessions. It’s a place where she can try out new techniques and just play, not having to worry about how the final product will look. It’s something that she says helps her immensely in many areas, and she encourages others to keep one.
Art Journal 1
Art Journal 1 .

Micron pens and white out pens are her best friends and she loves using alcohol ink mixed with acrylic, because they resist one another and create an astral effect. Thrift stores are the best places to find weird old books and maps to use in collages. Vintage doilies also show up in a lot of her work – “I have a strange affinity for those.” And when in doubt, add some henna designs!!!!

Art  Journal 2
Art Journal 2

At this time, her  Etsy shop is the main venue for her works although she has done some wholesale in the past, and hopes to someday find a store here in Columbus that will be a good fit for her prints.  Although she has never done a gallery show, it is on her ‘bucket’ list.  Recently, she focused on a 40 Works In 40 Days project as a way to help get through the worst part of winter.This allowed her to create an 8 x 10 mixed media piece on wood panel each day until she  finished all 40. She also has a substantial presence on Society 6 and has begun to sell more there. She even has a gorgeous mural of her art in her bedroom (see below) that a friend bought for her from that website.  But, once again, that led back to the subject of how the hell do you establish yourself in your own community?  So, we did a little brainstorming and decided that we would continue to talk and brainstorm in the future while I encouraged her to make some contacts and maybe join some local art groups.  We also talked about mixed media, how we create and compared notes about our processes.  I learned some great tips from her and look forward to learning more from her.

The mural she was given by a friend (Jen's artwork!)
The mural she was given by a friend (Jen’s artwork!)
 In addition to what she has done locally,  several of her prints were used on the show “Texas Flip N Move” which aired in December 2014 on the DIY Network.  She says: “It was pretty weird to see my stuff on TV, but really cool!”
Art Journal 3
Art Journal 3
Despite the difficult times, I can definitely feel that Jen is someone who is motivated to continue to make art her vocation even though she is tired of being broke.  A part-time job to help pay the bills may be on the horizon but I sure hope she doesn’t give up on her dreams because I think she’s on to something!!!  I’m looking forward to seeing where those lead her and hope that I will see her work out and about our great city soon.
Contact info for readers:

A Resurgence of Historical Ladies’ Wear: Corsetry with Designer Larissa Boiwka

larissa (1)

Larissa Boiwka (pronounced Boy-eve-kah), a recent recipient of the Greater Columbus Art Council’s grants, and her Wilde Hunt Corsetry came to my attention through a Facebook post on the Art and Artists of 614.  I was totally enthralled by her artistry and amazingly detailed work.  I’ve never had a corset before but her work has sure made me think about that twice! I asked her if she would be interested in being interviewed and, happily, she said yes.

blue and gold corset

Not only did I interview her, but I got to take a great 3D embroidery class from her near the end of April. First, the interview and then a little bit about the class.

Originally from Amherst Ohio, she is both a first and second generation here in the USA…her dad immigrated from the Ukraine and her mother’s family immigrated (great grandparents on her mother’s side) from Germany and England…THAT is an interesting bloodline and could explain her love for history.

Creating came to her through her genes as her mother is an artist and raised Larissa in an environment that fostered creativity, artistry and creation. While her mom doesn’t enjoy sewing much, she taught Larissa the basics at an early age. ‘As far as corsetry is involved, I  am 100% self-taught through a lot of expensive mistakes!’

black-corset

Like so many other artists I have interviewed, she states:

Yes, I have always been drawn to creating. I have thought about this a lot over the years, and I don’t think that you really get to choose. If you are an artist, you simply are. You can try to defer it, stifle it, but it will always surface. I feel that generally when an artist tries to forego art for another occupation, they end up pretty miserable.  Ask me how I know…ha ha!

Having a degree in anthropology from OSU, she has a passion for historic clothing, ancient cultures, cultural adornments and ethnic costumes that have inspired a lot of her work. ‘Towards the end of my degree I realized that while I am very interested in and inspired by ancient cultures, I did not want to spend my life in academia. I worked as a retail buyer for an art and jewelry gallery after college. It was during that time that I established Wilde Hunt Corsetry in 2007. ‘ She calls her work ‘art corsetry’ since it is a mix of fine art, traditional craft and fashion. Nature, Art Nouveau, antique furniture, ethnic textiles and jewelry, extreme contrasts and beautiful and distinctive women serve as inspiration for her gorgeous creations.

corset

In addition to her own creations, she teaches couture embroidery and beading. She sometimes teaches Couture Embroidery and Beading at the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) or at her home studio. Since she believes that it is kind of a dying art form, she thinks it is important to pass on the techniques. Recently, she taught a course in am obscure medieval style of embroidery called Or Nue’ (nuance in gold). It is like painting with silk upon densely laid threads of gold. ‘The detail and subtlety possible in this medium is incredible.’ Unfortuntately, the best artisans in this style died without passing on their skills and so now, just a handful of them internationally practice this form of embroidery, having taught themselves through studying extant examples and trial and error. Fortunate for the Columbus art and fashion scene that Larissa is among them! Read more

Talking about the materiality of wood with CAW member Melinda Rosenberg

Melinda_10Melinda Rosenberg’s wooden sculptures often include an organic piece, like a branch, that cuts against a more rigid form constructed from boards. No source of wood is off limit. Skeletal Christmas tree trunks, weathered barn wood, and traditional lumber are all stowed away in her studio space. Pristine or weathered, she highlights the inherent nature of the wood – often with layers of stain and careful sanding. She has amassed a workshop full of tools and is constantly learning new methods to create her forms. Although Melinda works predominantly in wood, her influences are far-reaching.

A large selection of Melinda’s “boat” forms will be on display for Remnants at the Urban Arts Space. She is also represented by the Sherrie Gallerie locally, as well as the CIRCA Gallery in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Haen Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina. I met up with Melinda at her studio. Tagging along was her furry sidekick, Maggie who really sunk her teeth into the material – or at least the scraps on the floor.

9. X-43
X-43 by Melinda Rosenberg

You started working with wood whole-heartedly while getting your MFA at Ohio State. What was the pivotal project or moment that sparked your interest?

It was the first thing I did there. I was really excited by the artist Ree Morton. I had just come back from New York City and she had an exhibition at the New Museum. She brought play and humor [to her work.] In one piece (image here), she had made a tabletop with just a piece of plywood and some sticks. It looked very handmade. Then she had little sections of tree and put a rock on it at different heights. Then on the wall, she had diagrams that were very carefully drawn of each little vignette. I was excited because it was a bridge between the 2D and the 3D, but it was also her pleasure. She was showing you how carefully she had observed this thing. That is what we do on the beach, we collect rocks. It took something very ordinary and it made me feel like I was going to the beach with her. It was a fun, intimate thing.

I was all inspired by her, so I just started right away doing things in wood that I would then paint or draw. I would find a log and make it into a ballerina by putting a lot of tutu stuff on it. I painted the wood grain to make it more evident – with neon and bright colors. I then banded it off, sort of like it was an altar. I was inspired by [Ree Mortin]’s idea, but I had gone crazy with it.

You combine formalist elements like shape with organic wood pieces. Does a series start with the organic pieces or a more geometric framework?

It starts with the framework. I will set something up. With the X’s it was an exploration of more painterly issues, but also optical and material issues. I was trying to directly solve what can happen as a painter dealing with wood in all of its multi-faceted aspects. With the boat forms, I was more inspired by the desire to reintroduce something more organic into the geometric and really make a deal of it, like the Cha-shitsu Architecture [of Japanese tea houses]. When I write about it, I talk about how the organic can be a metaphor for the more natural side of human life and the geometric the more rational side. I think about that dichotomy and I want to try to bring things into balance that may not be so in harmony in my life – your desires against what you know you should do.

Melinda_08
Melinda_01
Melinda_04
Melinda_03


Is there a reason these boat forms have a negative space framing the organic item running through the center?

I was thinking about many things at the same time.  I was thinking about male, female – the stick is phallic and the opening is vaginal. The stick is natural and the surrounding form is man made. I wanted to give space so that the natural object has room to be observed and appreciated. So there is definitely a reason why there is space. I was really playing around with how thin to get the sticks on the sides. When you go really thin, what will that do to it? Playing around with all that stuff kind of formally, but also seeing how it made it feel when it’s done.

I know you plan to hang your boat series in a configuration for Remnants. Do you have the arrangement in mind from the outset, or is it more a response to the space when you install?

That part definitely comes to play in it, but it’s not pre-planned. In the beginning, it is enough to wrap my head around what I am going to do with a stick and a piece of wood. Every time that I put on a show, I spend a lot of time doing thinking about how is it going to be arranged, how it is going to fit in the space and what the relationship between objects are going to be, both in size and style. By working in a series, I want to point out differences and subtleties in the material.

Melinda_14
Boats by Melinda Rosenberg

Wood isn’t like other materials. It has a growth history. Can you speak to that?

It is one of the reasons I love wood. The growth history seen in the wood grain and how wood decays is very important. When my daughter was three, it was fall and in our backyard there are tons of trees and there were leaves everywhere. She ran out to this pile of leaves and picked up a leaf and screamed, “Mommy, I found a leaf.” She was pure joy that she had found this leaf. I think that’s it. She had her finger on the pulse of life to appreciate something like that so much. With wood, it is my way to get at the pulse of life. I want to be able to put my finger on something that is alive. It is metaphorically, for me, the whole great life thing that we’re a part of.

Your influences range from such disparate examples as minimalist painting to Japanese architecture to conceptual photography. How do these synthesize in your work?

When digesting influences, I think it’s really important to both be respectful of the source and its original intent and context, but it’s also important to let go of that. Maybe I am too accommodating as a person, but I feel like if we are going to progress as a culture we have to be able to communicate visually. I’m not Japanese, but I’m really excited about Cha-shitsu Architecture, which I have been for years. I could tell you stories about this architecture. It’s grand. They do optical stuff that is designed to bring you into the present moment. I am inspired by the intent and the effect of those moves. I think we should use them intelligently to move forward. We should learn from them.

I take what I get excited about and find it in my work. It’s not what it looks like, it’s what it does to me. When I’m going through the museum I’m not seeing 99% of it. The things that I see are the things that I need to see. That’s how we work. You learn what your antennas are up for. I think the information comes in because we’re ready for it to come in.

Melinda_07
Melinda_02
Melinda_06
Melinda_05


In showing me a new system to cradle your works-in-progress you mentioned working with Cliff. Who is Cliff?

I got a professional development grant from the Greater Columbus Arts Council to work with Cliff Lewis, a woodworker, to help me problem solve throughout this past year. It has been transformative. I encourage all you guys to apply for a professional development grant. He has provided a plethora of ideas that have enabled me to do more things.

Do you have any words of encouragement for other artists?

I have been on an amazing roll for the last five years or so. But I want to recognize for all those artists that aren’t on an amazing roll, that I have gone through terrible dry spells where it has been drudgery – making bad art, after bad art, after bad art. So just hang in there. Have faith.

What broke you free from the drudgery? Time?

I started working on this series before I retired, so it’s not only time. It was also finding something that was really exciting. Every day is a pleasure. I feel so blessed to have the time and the space and the ideas. It’s really been amazing. I wake up all excited to work.

unnamed (16)
Books by Melinda Rosenberg

Visit melindarosenberg.com to view more of Melinda’s portfolio.