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.

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