If you have been following this column, you may be aware that monthly the Center for the Arts has been hosting an Artist in Residence; an artist who is featured on exhibit. I promised to share information that is intended to help you to get to know this artist, your neighbor a bit better.
The Art League includes a community of artists. It is a great asset in this community and makes up a community within our community. (Say that 10 times fast!) So it’s time to get to meet your neighbor, Artist in Residence for August, Richard W. Rosen. It’s time for me to share some insight into his inspirations and exhibition, using his words.
When asked about where his inspiration comes from the story goes “while living in the Philadelphia area as a child, one of my favorite activities was visiting my grandparents in the city. These visits were a feast for the senses, full of excitement; sounds and colors from the many cars, clanging trolleys and diverse people. Tall buildings, crowded train yards and long bridges crossing rivers. Entwined with the man-made systems was nature in the form of beautiful parks and gardens; my grandparents always had colorful flowers in the small garden in front of their rowhouse. As I matured, my appreciation grew for the complex relationship between the man-made and nature.”
Artistically, it is easy to see that Rosen finds his inspiration in the works of Calder, Hofmann, Kandinsky and Miro. His works combine clay sculpture and painting; and in the case of wall pieces, he also adds woodworking. Rosen’s tells us his “varied life experiences are reflected in his art. The travels, the people and world events help form the themes.” He comments “as we are all affected by our environment, my hand-built clay and mixed media constructions are affected by my observations. My work evolves intuitively and is inspired by shapes, textures and colors in nature and in man-made forms. I find organic and geometric abstract images in clouds, rocks, trees and city skylines. Dreamlike imaginary elements and exotic images also serve as inspiration. My desire to challenge shape is enhanced by a passion for color. I want my art to be stimulating as well as fun for the observer. Since the work is open to interpretation, I encourage viewers to use their imagination while enjoying and contemplating it.”
The process as stated by Rosen “is a conceptual approach to visualize ideas. The freedom to improvise and allow for the natural flow of ideas is essential. I am inspired by listening to a variety of music as I work and hand-building clay allows me to create in a very natural, tactile way that is both calming and therapeutic. Found objects and free-hand techniques are used to create textures and shapes. After the piece has dried, it is bisque-fired followed by the application of underglazes and glazes, finely ground colored glass, which provide the means to “paint” the clay with color. Then, the piece is fired again using contemporary raku firing methods which add an element of surprise and spontaneity due to the unpredictable reactions of the clay and glazes.” Rosen explains that these reactions often result in dramatic cracking and brilliant colorful metallic effects which are incorporated into the finished piece.
A bit of history, the Raku firing process dates back to 16th century Japan when it was used to produce simple, yet refined, bowls for the Zen Buddhist tea ceremony; the Raku symbol generally represents the concepts of enjoyment, happiness, pleasure and quiet.
An award winning clay artist, Richard was on hand at the opening of his exhibit; and ironically the closing of the 2009 Summer Wine & Art Series. If you were unable to attend these words may intrigue you to take the opportunity for yourself and see the visual aspects of his art and understand his inspiration as the exhibit runs through August.