November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Stephanie Rond / Artist-Interview

Trapped!

Handcut stencil, spray paint patterned paper on canvas

 48″ x 60″ |   2012 

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 Art:

“It’s for and about the people”

With Mike Foldes

Columbus, Ohio-based artist Roger Williams suggested we consider a feature on friend and fellow artist Stephanie Rond. Once we saw her work, there was no question. Through the transition from a Dick and Jane illustrated world of the mid-20th Century to a fin de siecle 21st Century situational analysis of contemporary conditions, Rond delights with a revealing mix of irony, satire and barbed commentary.

Stephanie Rond

In Rond’s own words: “Stephanie Rond was born in Columbus Ohio.  She attended Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School and went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Ohio State University in 1997.  Her work deals with human nature, animal instinct, gender, and the culture of graffiti and street art. She is a 2011-2012 artist in residence at the Wexner Center for the Arts in the Pages program as well as a recipient of the 2010 Ohio State University Emerging Artist Fellowship.  Stephanie has had solo and group shows in Columbus, Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Atlanta and has exhibited in many juried shows including “Art at the X” in Cincinnati in which she won first prize. In addition, Stephanie is director of the Carnegie Gallery at Main Library and S.Dot Gallery.  She is co-founder of Creative Arts of Women (CAW) and is part of the art collective, Cowtown Lowbrow. When she grows up she would like to be a crossword puzzle guru and domestic cat herder.”

Q) When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

A) I’ve known since I was old enough to hold a crayon and make a voice for myself. Being an artist is my “calling.” I have to make things and I have to express my vision of the world. It’s what I’m supposed to do.

Q) Did your parents influence in any particular direction as far as art or other ‘career choices’ are concerned? Are they involved with the arts?

A) My parents are both very creative thinkers, but did not have involvement with the arts. I think they were a bit hesitant about me going into the arts as a vocation because they knew the hardships involved. But they also realized how stubborn and determined I am. They never discouraged me from following my dreams.

Curtsey

Handcut stencil, spray paint on paper, wheat paste,  April 2012

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Q) You seem to have grown up in a Dick-and-Jane world… who/what artist would you say has had the greatest influence on your work….?

A) Hmmm, I would say that some of my themes touch on that, but I grew up in a world opposite of Dick and Jane. I grew up with all the battles that a lower income family has in addition to being a survivor of sexual abuse. These experiences have made me the strong person that I am today.

As far as influences, they have really run the gamut. Early on it was the teachers that nurtured my own voice. In high school I met one of my most cherished mentors Teresa Weidenbusch, she introduced me to the world of feminism. Influences on my work are the Guerilla Girls, Judy Chicago and Barbara Kruger. I’ve been known to ogle over Warhol and Rauschenberg too. Most recently Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Swoon.

Q) What is your preferred medium?

A) Recently my medium is hand-cut stencils and spray paint.

Q) Were there any notable artistic influences at Ohio State that shaped the direction of your work?

A) I attended the Ohio State University and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in painting and a minor in Sculpture. I wouldn’t say there was one person or thing that influenced me in college, but rather the well-rounded education that I received. I wasn’t interested in attending an art school because I wanted to study all kinds of things that would effect my creative thinking, such as entomology, psychology, women’s studies, etc.

Q) Can you tell us a bit about Cowtown Lowbrow?

A) Cowtown Lowbrow (aka Cowbrow) is an artist collective that was established by Dan Gerdeman in 2007. We consist of a group of artists of all ages, genders and backgrounds that are influenced by comic books, sci-fi, pop culture, video games, graffiti and the flavor of the moment. We put on one to two themed shows a year with the goal of challenging each other to become better visual artists. In the words of our fearless leader, “the work straddles both sweet and sour, accessible and in your face.” This collective has grown into a family of support and love and a place to celebrate each other’s successes.

A dollhouse transformed into a gallery with Rond’s scaled-down work.

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Q) And the s.Dot gallery?

A) S.Dot Gallery is a dollhouse size gallery that I have been running for the last year and a half. In 2011 I was in a four woman show at the Walleye Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio, called “Playing House.” For that show, I transformed a dollhouse into a gallery for my own work. There was so much excitement over it I began asking other artists to exhibit.

When I debuted it on Facebook, people thought it was a life size gallery. It’s so popular, that now I have artists from outside my Columbus community proposing shows. Over 20 artists have participated. The gallery is now booked thru 2014. In addition I established the dollhouse size Rigsby Contemporary Museum and will be unveiling a Feminist Museum, Art Barn and Residency program in 2013. These small spaces challenge not only myself but other artists to problem solve, by creating an entire body of work within the confines of scale. The exhibits end up being larger than life!

Q) Who are the other co-founders of CAW, and how did that come about?

A) Helma Groot and I co-founded the art collective Creative Arts of Women (CAW). Helma has been a wonderful friend and mentor to me over the years. In 2009 we saw the need to start the group because female artists face different challenges than their male colleagues. We wanted a safe forum to discuss those issues as well as create a professional support system. We have over 60 members and the collective is now run by a steering committee of eight members. CAW includes visual artists, performance artists, art enthusiasts and arts administrators. We meet every two months and discuss how best to serve our community.

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Stephanie Rond Artist

[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-artist/thumbs/thumbs_rond-11.jpg]40
bless you or LOL<br />handcut stencil, spray paint<br />on canvas<br />20″ x 16″, 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-artist/thumbs/thumbs_rond-13.jpg]30
aundry lady<br />handcut stencil, spray paint<br />paper on canvas<br />28″ x 36″, 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-artist/thumbs/thumbs_rond-15.jpg]30
mother is calling<br />handcut stencil, spray paint<br />blue print on canvas<br />24″ x 36″, 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-artist/thumbs/thumbs_rond-16.jpg]30
lost or found?<br />handcut stencil, spray paint,<br />paper on canvas<br />20″ x 20″, 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-artist/thumbs/thumbs_rond-17.jpg]30
rise above<br />handcut stencil, spray paint,<br />paper on canvas<br />24″ x 36″, 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-artist/thumbs/thumbs_rond-14.jpg]30
all the pretty flowers<br />mixed media<br />36″ x 24″, 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-artist/thumbs/thumbs_rond-18.jpg]30
sojourner<br />cut paper, stencil<br />spray paint on canvas<br />20″ x 24″, 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-artist/thumbs/thumbs_rond-21.jpg]30
writing on the wall<br />cut paper, stencil,<br />spray paint on canvas<br />20″ x 16″, 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-artist/thumbs/thumbs_rond-19.jpg]40
hope for the future<br />handcut stencil, spray paint,<br />glow in the dark paint<br />paper on canvas<br />20″ x 30″, 2012

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 Q) You were born in and grew up in Columbus, and you’re back living there now. How do you perceive the art scene there, and the general creative ambiance?

A) In the past decade, the DIY arts culture in Columbus has grown and thrived “underground.” In recent years, city leadership recognized the magic of this art culture, embraced it and are now working hard to make it one of the cornerstones of our city’s identity. Art is exploding everywhere in our city and opportunities abound for beginners to the well known. Within the arts community, we have learned that the best way to succeed is to work collectively in order to lift us all up. It makes me proud to be part of a large artist community that values collaboration and mutual success over competition. I’m particularly grateful to have mentors such as Helma Groot, Dan Gerdeman, Roger Williams and Jami Goldstein.

Q) How would you compare it to Chicago, LA, NY? Can you?

A) In my travels to other cities, I’ve found that artists in these communities have the same concerns that artists in Columbus have. The Internet has done a huge service in joining us together. The street art community is a great example. Street Art is what I’m most invested in because it’s for and about the people. We no longer need to concern ourselves with where we live, but how we as a group can make an impact.

Q) You’ve told us what you do as curator of the S.Dot Gallery; what do you do at Carnegie Gallery at the Main Library?

A) The Carnegie Gallery is apart of the Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Library in Downtown Columbus.  The gallery was started by myself and the Arts and Media Manager of the Main Library, Chuck Cody.  We believe in helping other non-profits by giving them satellite space as well as exposure for their artists/non-profit that they may not have been reaching. We believe that art should be easily accessible to everyone and are proud to bring exhibitions to people that may not step into galleries or museums. We believe that visual literacy is just as important as textural literacy.

Q) What was it like being an artist in residence at the Wexner Center?

A) During my residency at the Wexner Center, I worked in the Arts Education Department. Through a yearlong program called Pages, I worked with eight local area high schools. The students attended visual, performance and media arts events at the center. We used these experiences to talk about writing as a creative problem solving skill as well as how text and visual literacy go hand and hand. At the end of the school year we created an exhibit at the Carnegie Gallery in the Columbus Metropolitan Library. The exhibit included visual arts, poetry and performances. I loved being a part of these student’s lives as well as learning about education in the arts.

Q) Are you presently affiliated with a dealer-gallery in Columbus, or elsewhere, other than S.Dot?  

A) I choose not to have gallery representation in my hometown as it limits where and with whom I can show. I would be open to working with a Columbus dealer as long as they wouldn’t place limits on what I do on my home turf. I have a gallery that I work with in Atlanta called 2 Rules Fine Art.  Although we don’t have a written contract, I consider myself loyal to being affiliated with them in Atlanta and I’ve exhibited my work there regularly.  I also show regularly with Ray’s Living Room Gallery in Columbus. In 2013, I hope to branch out to other cities and foster more working relationships.

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Stephanie Rond Street Art

[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-street-art/thumbs/thumbs_rond-25.jpg]10
childhood lost<br />handcut stencil, spray paint<br />march 2011
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-street-art/thumbs/thumbs_rond-24.jpg]10
smile!<br />handcut stencil spray paint<br />on paper, wheat paste<br />may 2011
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-street-art/thumbs/thumbs_rond-10.jpg]20
checkmate<br />handcut stencil, spray paint<br />on paper molded into a wall<br />60″ x 48″, 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-street-art/thumbs/thumbs_rond-2.jpg]00
limited options<br />handcut stencil, spray paint<br />on paper molded into a wall<br />48″ x 60″, 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-street-art/thumbs/thumbs_rond-23.jpg]00
princess consumerism<br />handcut stencil, spray paint<br />on paper, wheat paste<br />may 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-street-art/thumbs/thumbs_rond-27.jpg]10
dee-lish!!!<br />handcut stencil, spray paint<br />on paper, wheat paste<br />march 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-street-art/thumbs/thumbs_rond-28.jpg]00
precocious<br />handcut stencil, spray paint<br />on vinyl pressed into a wall<br />august 2012
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-street-art/thumbs/thumbs_rond-3.jpg]00
clothesline II<br />handcut stencil, spray paint<br />on paper molded into a wall<br />36″ x 36″, 2011
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/stephanie-rond-street-art/thumbs/thumbs_rond-4.jpg]00
lioness<br />handcut stencil, spray paint<br />on paper molded into a wall<br />48″ x 60″, 2012

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Q) Long-term, what influence do you hope to have through your art?

A) As an artist, I believe I have a responsibility to society to help people reflect on the human experience. I don’t believe I hold the answers. My intent is to cultivate questions. I want my work to serve as a springboard for meaningful conversation. Many of the themes of my art address the issue of gender equality. If there were a single point of influence I would hope to achieve long term, it would be in this realm. But I do have other goals with my work such as fighting advertising and consumerism. I hope that I can make art that is accessible to all, and allows people to slow down, think, and in turn have a more enjoyable life.

Q) Do you see yourself still living in Columbus in five years? Or, do you think you’ll be spending time in New York or another city?

A) I really enjoy living in Columbus and it would be hard to move away from my family. I am loyal to Columbus, but if the right opportunities for both my husband and I arose I wouldn’t rule out relocation. One of the great things about living in Columbus is where it’s located. I can easily drive to every major art city east of the Mississippi river in one day. I have many friends in NYC and I go there whenever I can. I’m all for traveling!

Q) Where can people see your work online? Would you like us to list your sites AND your e-mail?

A) Oh yes please! The best place to see my work is on my website at www.stephanierond.com and my email is stephanierond@mac.co

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About the interview:

This interview was conducted by e-mail. You can read more about the interviewer in “About Us.”

For more about Roger Williams, please see:
http://old.ragazine.cc/2009/12/roger-williams/