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Artist Profile Series: Jodi Rockwell

Artist Profile Series: Jodi Rockwell image
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Jodi Rockwell's sculptures have appeared at various sites in Ann Arbor, most recently at the Del Rio and at the Espresso Royale Caffe on Packard Street. Her work blends forms - both human and nonhuman - into rare perceptual events which escape easy definition and blur the boundaries of the acceptable. This interview discusses her Nov., 1997 exhibition, "Life Forms," a show of about 20 pieces. Her newest work can be seen in April at the Del Rio, 1 22 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor. Lou Hillman: Can you say something about your process, about making your art? Jodi Rockwell: Wcll , I' m pretty gestural. I like to work quickly, getthingsout. Ifl laborover something it deadens. If you think too much, you don't make any sense to anybody, especially yourself. I tend to need a lot of different projects because my reign is very random. I can 't stick with one thing and dive deep for a long time. I need to keep circling until they're all finished, because I like mood and feeling, and that can come quickly and go quickly . . . Hillman: ... and it's like trying to capture that. Rockwell: It' s weird how people choose to capture it, too. There are so many different mediums, and then when you hone in on one medium, it still vanes so much on how you deal with it. I mean, 1 still don' t understand how feelings can translate into form. No wonder people are baffled by artists. Hillman: Do you think it has something to do with the energetic state? I mean, each person being their own energetic state and then you have the energy of the emotion or the mood which somehow gets into the material as it's worked? Rockwell: Then it's the choice of material that inspires you. There are certain materials that will do it for me. I can't stand plastic, and there are plenty of artists who work in styrofoam, foam-core and plastic. It just drives me nuts. The squeak just sends chills. I end up with gooey wax and drippy clay, that stuff. Hillman: . . . plus steel rod, right? Rockwell: But the steel is so malleable, that I can use my hands todo the gesturalthing.Idon'tlike using tools to get it to bend. If I needed to, I would, but I prefer the hands-on aspect. Steel is just like line and space. I like to draw, so that's what it becomes for me. I draw with it and it's 3-D. Then I like relating all that to the body, the structure, the wires, the bones and the skin. I just keep building it up. For me, it's all adding: adding, twisting, manipulating, adding more, another layer. And I like looking at stuff and picking it apart - plants and things - it's amazing, they're so little and there's a lot going on in them. The parts all have a place and all work together. Hillman: That's the effect your work had when I saw it on the wall. It's like I was amoeba-sized. Rockwell: Good ! I was nerveus at first that everything would get swallowed up by the wall. Then I started hanging it and thoüght, "God, I don' t have enough room!" The pieces need breathing space. But I did everything for that show in two weeks, and I was thinking I'd have to go home and make more. Hillman:: You made all the pieces for that in two weeks? Rockwell: That's all I did, though. I woke up, I made, I slept. I'd fall asleep while I was making it, wake up, and I'd continue. I didn't have a job at the time and I didn' t have to go any where. I work based on where my head is at. My present situation al ways comes out and my inspiration to get the forms down is usually from nature. I like hybrids of nature and people. Then it becomes psychological in the end, it's hard not to think about your issues and the forms have a little bit more meaning because of them. Hillman: When you go back and look at the pieces, do you recognize some of the feelings or affects that went into making them? Rockwell: Sometimos I know in the moment, or sometimes I don't know until after they are here and then I' m thinking, "I guess I really am like that right now. Damn !" It's really kind of exciting when it speaks to you. It's like not admitting something to yourself. Your subconscious is there. Your dreams are all there. They won't let you by, but you won't admit how you feel when you're awake. You deny things and the work doesn't deny things, and that's so cool when that happens. Not every piece will do it, but when they do it's iike this is an extensión of every partofmecomingout. That's nice! Regurgitation! Hillman: This is hitting a lot of levéis in terms of the way other people have told me they work. Rockwell: In a similar way? Hillman: Wel!, similar in that there' s this soit of "unreasonable" that wants to have expression. Rockwell: The unreasonable as in "inappropriate"? Hillman: Well, like you were saying, the "denied," the "repressed," the "kept-down," kept down by reason, by thought. yeah - by what's appropriate. Rockwell: Yes. And I have to be really careful not to censor things, because 111 make choices in my studio and it's fine if nobody's around but then I remember.'This is going to go out in public. Do I want them to see this thing?" Sometimes they look really, really sexual and that's a private thing. But that's what is working and that's what it is, so 1 don't take it away . I kind of let it be. Hillman: Thank goodness. Your work is opening up the "dirty little secret!" Rockwell: What amazes me is when things are so obviously sexual and they're not being viewed that way, That's pretty interesting. So I like to have alternative views instead ofjustone way. It'sgreatwhenpeoplearen'tcatching on to that and it's all there. ■ í )


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