Thursday, May 30, 2013

Artist Interview :: Ellen Rolli

 Get to know a Copley artist! Ellen Rolli's works are currently featured in our "Fine Arts Work Center Fellows" exhibit in the upper gallery. A fellow in 2009, Ellen's month in Provincetown changed her style completely from representational to abstract. Recently, the Co|So staff interviewed one of our accomplished abstract painters about this work and her artistic career. 
Ellen Rolli, Verde, 48 x 36, mixed media.

1.   Who is your greatest influence? 
        My greatest influence is Hans Hofmann. A strong proponent of abstract expressionism, Hofmann was passionate about the creative process.  A painter and teacher, his approach to painting and his unique philosophy of art truly resonate with me.

2.     Tell us about your work in the Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship Show.
    The works I have chosen for the FAWC Fellowship show are works completed within the last several months. The paintings are part of a series completed after a trip to Venice and Florence last fall.  To see the experience and influence of place come through in my work is thrilling.  I did not plan to do an “Italian Series,” it just happened.  To work non-objectively and interpretively allows for that element of unpredictability and intuition in my paintings.  That is an important common thread in these pieces.

Ellen Rolli, Venezia, 48 x 36, mixed media.

3.     How would you characterize the arc of your career?
        I would characterize the arc of my career as a commitment to the painters life nearly 20 years ago that has continued to grow and evolve along the way. This artistic growth is a result of both a strong work ethic, and taking steps to achieve recognition of my work.  I begin painting from life, still life, plein air and from the figure.  My paintings for many years were representational, but expressive and painterly.  Very early in my career I made it a point to join art organizations, submit paintings to juried shows, have both solo and group exhibitions, find Gallery representation and stay connected in the art world in general.  Maintaining a studio outside of my home, (in Boston’s South End), for the last 7+ years has greatly helped to support my commitment to my work.. I left a part time job nearly 5 years ago to paint full time.  After my month long residency at FAWC, I began painting abstractly, exclusively, and have not looked back!  I am currently represented by 2 New England Galleries and a Florida Gallery. 

Ellen Rolli, Toscana, 30 x 30, mixed media.

4.      How did your experience at the Fine Arts Work Center affect your art/artistic voice?
     My experience at the FAWC was truly life changing for me, profoundly influencing my art and artistic voice.  To spend a month in a place with such an incredible history, where some of my heros lived and worked and painted was a dream realized. To devote myself completely to my work for one month allowed for an important transformation in my work.  Rather than stay with what I knew, I decided that I needed to take full advantage of this opportunity and take a leap of faith to try something new.  My work pre-residency, though representational, had been working towards abstraction for some time.  Why not get out of my comfort zone and spend a month exploring abstraction.  Taking that risk started me on a path of self-discovery and opened up a new world of expression for me.

5.     Describe a poignant moment/experience from your time in Provincetown.
     A very poignant moment from my time in Provincetown was not while I was creating. After my first couple of days at FAWC, and after settling in to my apartment, I was outside chatting with one of the center employees.  I mentioned to her that Hans Hofmann was a hero of mine.  She told me that at one time he had stayed in the exact apartment I was staying in.  The apartments were quite bare bones and simple and perhaps not all that different from the way they appeared when Hofmann was there.  When I was back in my apartment, I sat on the sofa, looked around and thought about Hofmann being there, trying to tap into his spirit!  A perfect way to begin this very special adventure.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Artist Interview :: David Kasman

Get to know a Copley artist! David Kasman's works are currently featured in our "Fine Arts Work Center Fellows" exhibit in the upper gallery. A fellow in 2008, David spent the month of September in Provincetown, MA focusing on his loose, painterly canvases and abstract sculptures. Recently, the Co|So staff interviewed one of our multi-talented members about this work and his artistic career. 

1. Tell us about your work in the Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship Show.

They run the spectrum, but they were all painted from direct observation as opposed to working from photographs. It is a personal thing, but I cannot think of a single great painting, a painting that I really love, a single masterpiece, that was based on a photograph. When you boil it all down, a painting done from a photograph is a painting of a photograph; a painting done from life has the potential to convey something more visceral. My four paintings in this show focus on different aspects of the real world. The sailboat is about light, the dining room is about color, the Monhegan Blizzard is about atmosphere and the T-Rex is about plastic realization. 

David Kasman, Dinner Party Remains, 29 x 33, oil.

2. How would you characterize the arc of your career?

My first sculptures were abstract, wood pieces and, to this day, I consider abstract composition to be at the heart of all my work. From there, I spent a number of years focused on, so called, representational sculpture.  In 2002, I tried my first oil painting. Painting had not interested me until that point, because I had no real understanding of it. Once painting got a hold of me though, I couldn’t stop that either. And now, everything has fused together. My paintings have become more solid and my sculptures have become more fluid and painterly.

3. When did you realize that you wanted to become an artist?

When I was at Cornell, my sculpture professor, Jonathan Squire, saw my enthusiasm and he was encouraging me to transfer into Cornell’s Arts and Science School to become a sculpture major. As much as the idea appealed to me, I didn’t consider sculpture to be a realistic career option. But, life has a way of presenting second chances, so after I sold my laboratory equipment business in 1999, I decided to make my move and become a full time sculptor. Later, I added oil painting to my endeavors. I should mention that I am not comfortable calling myself an “artist”. To me, “artist” is a loaded term. Other people may label me that, and that is fine, but I call myself “a painter and a sculptor”.

David Kasman, Reflections at Dusk, 22 x 25, oil.

4. How did FAWC affect your art/artistic voice?

The biggest effect was from contact with the Mass College of Art, MFA students. Everybody except me was in that program. When you cut through everything, what the professors and students were completely obsessed with was doing something new, that is, breaking conventions and traditions as well as pushing limits. Of course, I had already thought about this to some degree, but confronting and addressing this goal, every single day, had a positive and important impact on me.

David Kasman, T-Rex, 21 x 25, oil.

5. Describe a poignant moment/experience from your time in Provincetown.

There were a few MFA students that I used to hang out with during my stay at the FAWC. One of them told me that his professor had suggested that we might think about our earliest interests as sources for inspiration, as clues to our most elemental interests. My earliest obsession was dinosaurs, or more specifically, fossilized skeletons of dinosaurs. Suddenly, I realized that perhaps I should develop larger and more fossil-like versions of my sculptures! The results of this realization will form the core of my upcoming 2014 Copley Society solo show. Stay tuned …