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Alumni Studio Visit: Rosie Lopeman (Certificate 2016)

NYSS: Describe a typical day in your studio.

Rosie Lopeman: What feels meaningful keeps changing, so I’m finding ways to follow it.

To begin, I have to let all this content arise:— anxiety, restlessness, inspiration, doubt, ambitions — all this stuff has to be allowed to wash over me for a while. I just need to let it happen. With that experience I can then make a choice of where to start. The choice may be something comforting like drawing, something simple and new like a gouache study of the view outside, or something more ambitious: getting to something I’ve really been wanting to see happen but have left sitting for too long. Depending on where I’m at, I choose a path to suit myself.

Earlier this year, I composed a list of 10 steps for a studio session, for when I need guidance, or if I am returning to a “cold” studio (i.e. if I haven’t been working in there for some stretch of time). I discovered, for me, the first and last steps were really important. The opening up and the closing down. As I mentioned, I usually am a bit flooded with content when I open a session. So I prepare myself for that, and I try not to rush right to the action.

Similarly, it’s also important for me to sign off – “dismount” — leave on a decisive note. This helps me feel the continuity between studio sessions. When I return, I remember my closing moves from the last session and it gives me something to respond to.

NYSS: Walk me through your process. What are some of the parameters or problems you set up for yourself within your work?

RL: Whatever my source is, I’m searching for images. I’m searching for something that has a lasting power and a life of its own. If I can summon myself to be present, concentrated and open, I trust that will arise.

I prioritize my intuition because I generally need to balance out my modern urban psyche which relies so much on thinking and devising plans. The ‘planner’ has an important role too, but it’s a challenge to use it in a balanced way, when we are forced to overuse it in daily life.

I’m also recently exploring how to let the awkwardness be more dominant. Letting things exist that I want to “correct,” but also somehow finding a placement for them within a structure. So having both real strength and real fragility in an image. However, I am most of all trying to follow the content that arises in that moment, so it may be awkwardness one day and declarative geometry the next day.

My most recent subject has been my bedroom, with still-lifes of treasured objects, gifts from friends and paintings that surround me. For instance, I’m currently working on a still life of a postcard my mom sent to me of the Van Gogh painting “First Steps.” (You can see this incredible painting at the Met.)  The postcard is sitting on top of a framed John Newman drawing (my former teacher at the Studio School). Next to that is a rose-scented candle and bookmark from the Vipassana meditation center that I go to. All this is sitting on top of a sculpture I made this summer out of carpet and wood, which is sitting on a cabinet that I inherited from my grandma.

NYSS: How has your practice changed during this time of social distance? Have you had to adapt to a new way of working?

RL: In the past year and a half, I have been discovering this new content in the work. Which is kind of about self love and safety. I used to think that creativity was only about exploring discomfort. Now I’m exploring the part of creativity that feels like ‘home’ in that deep sense.

NYSS: What do you keep in the studio for inspiration? Reference material, artist monographs, music, fiction, found objects, foods etc …

RL: The arrangements of objects around me are important to me. I have many beloved items:  books, paintings, pottery, bones, candles etc… and things get rotated, rearranged periodically, often mindlessly. I have a note on my wall that says: “the egoless pile.”  I’m inspired by the way things accidentally or unconsciously group together and accumulate. Currently those piles are becoming the subjects of my paintings.

I also have art by other people and friends: Katelynn Mills, Jim Prez, Joe Santore, Tirzah Brott, Stephen Antonakos, Ewelina Bochenska, Jim Long, and Carlo D’Anselmi among others!

The other thing in the studio is my bookshelf of every journal/sketchbook I’ve filled since age 8. I’ve been a consistent journaler and draw-er since a young age. The records of my past selves are extremely helpful for understanding myself and sometimes remind me of forgotten content that can inspire me to begin a new piece.

NYSS: Do you listen to anything while you work?

RL: Depending on the day, I listen to music, artist talks, poetry readings on YouTube, and the psych podcast “This Jungian Life.” I love to hear Allen Ginsberg, Leonard Cohen, Precious Okoyomon, Frances Chang, and Beverly Glenn Copeland, to name a few. I like a lot of psychological content: healers, astrologers and spiritual leaders on youtube, like Doelow Da Pilotman, Brene Brown and Marianne Williamson.

I also go through many periods where it feels like music is competing with the silence. In those times I just want quiet.

NYSS: How did studying at NYSS influence your current studio practice

NYSS is where I really explored and learned to love the poetry of space. And that is still at the core of everything.  I learned to be surprised. I learned to find content through the real experience of making – of being with myself in the studio. I learned to see it all as an adventure, and I learned to work hard. Most of all, the community of painters and sculptors that I met there continue to sustain me.

NYSS: Upcoming shows/projects?

RL: I am going to launch my new website www.rosielopeman.net by the end of 2021. It’s been a big project, and I’m excited to share. Otherwise, my instagram is @rosielopeman and I have some of my work on the NYSS faculty page.

I’m not the best at documenting and sharing my work and I want to work more on that. A hope of mine in all of this is to give back what my favorite artists have given to me: to make someone feel less alone, and reminded of beauty and meaning even in this often bleak-seeming world.

In December I’ll be spending 10 days in my friend’s studio/gallery while he is out of town. It’s not an official project but I’m looking forward to being there. The space is called GRIDSPACE and is run by the artist Charles Goldman in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. In 2017 I did a 3 month solo project in the gallery, so it will be nice to return there and be influenced by the space again.

Snapshots From NYSS

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