Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Interview with Stephanie Rond

Q, I enjoyed seeing your new series knuckles sprawled out across the floor, at my visit to your loft studio, they seems both vintage americana, and pop art. What was your inspiration for this series?

A. Thanks, that series was great fun, and a great way to pay homage to the people in the community that I admire for one reason or another. The inspiration for this series came from a friend of mine, Sharon Bell, who sent me a funny picture of a knuckle tattoo that said “bookworm” on it. I think she sent it because I embrace myself as the research nerd that I am. I got to thinking about knuckle tattoos and what they mean in society and how I could incorporate that into the money themed show I was working on at the time. That’s where the first painting was born; it was called “artwhore”. “artwhore” got so much attention and a couple commissions that I thought a whole show of knuckle tattoos where I “tattooed” my friends would be fun. The people involved were very excited and couldn’t wait to see what their tattoos were. Part of the proceeds from this show went to The Girlz Rhythm and Rock Camp.

I have always been heavily influenced by the Pop Artists. Rauschenberg is my favorite, but I will not shy away from a Warhol either. I have always felt that for my own work it is important to make a statement. In most cases the work is political with a humorous edge. I have always enjoyed making art that borrows from things in culture that have already existed. For me, it is about recreating a new story. I have always been labeled as heavily influenced by Pop Art, which is fine with me. But the Americana reference is a relatively new one, and I have been hearing this more about my work lately. I have to admit that I looked up the dictionary definition of Americana…the definition is “something that is distinctly American”. I guess I’m still wrapping my head around that one.

Q. am so fond of your craft based work, what would you say is your take on these american traditions?

A. The craft based work was a natural progression for me. I have been a feminist for about 20 years now. Women’s issues charged most of the work that I did in college. My work is still charged by that today. I began thinking about the role that needlework has played in women’s lives for centuries. Although it can be said that needlework is women’s busy work, I find the opposite is true. It requires mathematical skills, color theory and an artistic eye.

Last year at the same time that I was interested in the patterns of needlework, I also became interested in stenciling, but more specifically stencils that were considered “graffiti”. I began making my own stencils and patterns based on other stencils I had seen in books and online. These patterns were of bombs, tanks and grenades, etc, all representations of war.

I liked the idea of taking something so female dominated as cross stitch and combining it with something male dominated (grafitti) and giving them a story together. So I went to war on what is seen as a stereotypical beautiful woman. I went to war with the objectification of women. This war concept also branched out into a war on nature as well.

Q. I love your division of right brain gallery / left brain gallery on your website! Do you generally fluctuate between these two styles?

A. I do, but I had to change the format of the website. It got confusing that I was, and always am working in two separate styles. So rather than have two separate galleries I now name each series and the years they were completed in. I think this gives people a better idea that I am always working in this way.

Both styles feed different parts of who I am artistically as well as a person. The lighter stuff such as the work for the knuckle tattoo show shows my funny side. The craft based work shows my more serious and political voice.

Some have said I should pick one style or the other. I see their point but I think that is also why I tend to hold tight to both styles. I’m pretty stubborn so the minute someone tells me I can’t do something or should limit myself, I will always see that as a challenge and fight against it.

Q. I thought your studio was so cool, how, it is not in your house but above your garage. Sort of the best of both worlds. Do you ever slip out the back door with your PJ's and slippers on to work?

A. LOL that’s a good question. The commute is the best in town. I don’t tend to do that because I will end up with paint all over my PJ’s. I have designated painting clothes…..lots of designated painting clothes, almost everything except my PJs.

Q. Do you work at night? or during the day?

A. I work during the day. I used to paint at night but when I did the 9-5 gig years ago, I started seeing the advantages of working during the day. Since leaving that gig I have kept the same hours. Honestly I usually block out the two windows that I do have in the studio and there isn’t a clock so I can never tell what time it actually is. Sometimes I wake up extremely early like 4 or 5 am and get started because I will be so excited about what I’m working on that I cant stay in bed.

Q. Do you have some current favorite tunes you are listening to in your studio, or are you a work in silence type?

A. Actually, it depends on what type of work I am doing. If it is extremely tedious work or work that requires problem solving, I will listen to music. That way I can go in and out of being conscious of sound. I listen to just about anything but country. Not a country fan. Mostly I listen to Punk, Alternative (if that is even a genre anymore?), Metal, Rap and good ole Rock n Roll. If I’m doing something mundane like line work or square work, then I listen to books on CD. I have this book called “1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die” I’m slowly checking off the list. I have read/listened to about 15% of them.

Q. What are you currently working on?

A. I am currently working on a body of work called “Defacing Beauty”. The flower patterns from the older work have gotten smaller, and way more detailed. Rather than war stencils such as grenades and bombs, I have replaced them with toasters and vacuum cleaners. I no longer feel a need to tell stories with war attached to them. I figure if I’m going to “tag” or “deface” my paintings why not deface them with the stereotypes of women’s “tools of the trade” I have also been studying wheat pasting, so I’m excited to see where that will lead me.