Installment 2 of three to feature the three amazing women opening shows on September 5….meet Stephanie Rond!!!!
I first learned about Stephanie Rond from Walter Herrmann when I interviewed him. I had seen her name around but he was my go-to guy for names of the movers and shakers in the Columbus art scene and he told me I definitely had to be in touch with Stephanie! So we corresponded several times via the net and finally were able to meet in person at her home (which houses the S. Dot Gallery) while artist, Megan Fiscus, was doing an installation of her work in The Painted Lady Feminist Museum.
First , let’s start with her background…She attended Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School (the first graduating class!!!) where she originally wanted to study dance, but quickly switched to Visual Arts as her concentration because it really spoke to her along with finding a mentor for life in one of her teachers, Teresa Weidenbusch. From there she moved on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Ohio State University with a Major in Painting and Drawing and a minor in Sculpture.
After graduation, she worked as a sous chef for several years and then worked as a library assistant conducting story telling for children as well as teen programs. Seven years ago, she left this position to become a contract worker running the Carnegie Gallery at the Main Library downtown. She is the director of this program having founded it with the then manager of Humanities and Fine Arts, Chuck Cody…the division is now called Arts and Media and Stephanie does just about everything you can imagine from booking shows to hanging the artwork, labeling and anything else that is required to promote the shows. Because she believes that ‘everyone should have access to art’.
She also has several other contracts with several universities (OSU, Dominican, Otterbein) and galleries (Ray’s Living Room, GCAC, Wexner Center, Carnegie Gallery, OSU, CCAD) where she conducts lectures/workshops/residencies as well as curating galleries.In addition to her contract work, she is the director of the S. Dot Gallery (her nickname from friend Cyrus Fire and the name of one of her cute little black kitties). BTW, Dot and Dorrie are the official gallery assistants and, therefore, are an integral part of each exhibit; artists must include them in each creation. This gallery came to fruition when Stephanie was asked to be part of show 3 years ago in Cleveland called ‘Playing House’. She used a vintage dollhouse and gutted it to create a gallery space with not many rules. She states that she never had a doll house growing up and always wanted one so this was a dream come true for her. From there social media exploded, with people asking if she had actually opened a ‘brick and mortar’ gallery….that created the impetus for her to turn her contribution in that show into an actual gallery where artists from Columbus and beyond can show/have an exhibit inside one of 4 venues (which means inside one of 4 dollhouses!) With this gallery, Stephanie has chosen to throw out the rules, encourage artists to have fun and only not make too much of a mess of her dining room floor…yes, the venues are in her home!There are currently 4 venues at this time…The Painted Lady Feminist Museum, S. Dot Gallery (original), Rigsby Contemporary Museum, R&R Residency (this house lives at the resident artist’s house and they blog about this, explaining their process). Walter Herrmann also made a sculpture garden for Stephanie and they have been working out the details of how to best utilize it. Each artist who is interested in installing art into one of the houses develops a story about their process while working on the miniature art. Stephanie asks each artist to pay 30% of all sales of gallery exhibits to contribute to purchases of furniture and props for future artists and she keeps one piece from each installation for her permanent collection. Stephanie buys the furniture for her houses mainly from England and a miniature expo/fair once a year. This furniture is used by the resident artists in their set up. Most installations take about a day to complete at Rond’s house.
She also has a lovely little studio above her garage in Clintonville. I had the opportunity to visit this space and got to see some of her works in progress…fun! She also has a website and shows frequently in local galleries to cover the cost of her street art….YES…Besides her miniature galleries, she is a street artist. Making all art non-gender specific by blurring the lines between between street art (male oriented) and her dollhouses (female oriented) is her goal. As for her art, she has always been a feminist artist, focusing on women’s issues stating that she likes to ‘sign up’ for the boys’club because she wants to eliminate sexual bias for everyone. Her street art shows women and girls in positive active roles in an effort to eliminate the current media blitz that objectifies women. Ideally, she likes to create this art once a month in a variety of places. Currently, she has pieces in Seattle and Brisbane Australia and has been requested to return to Morocco (where she vacationed last year with her hubby and mother-in-law) to participate in a street festival where her piece would be on exhibit for a year.As an aside: She and her hubby (a librarian and musician who plays in a band with Steph as singer!!!) chose to go to Morocco because they have always wanted to go to Africa. Originally, they planned a trip to Egypt but the heated political situation there made them change their destination. 2 1/2 weeks on a professor-guided tour because she says she and hubby are ‘extreme nerds’, going places where they can immerse themselves like Road Scholars program tours…they have also been to Peru on the same type of tour. She fell in love with the Muslim culture and architecture and is pretty sure that those patterns will find a presence in her art.When asked to categorize her art she stated:
Good question, I guess it depends on the day. Sometimes I have a hard time calling myself an artist let alone what kind of art that I make. Urban Contemporary? Feminist? Maker of stuff?
Many things inspire her art from something she sees in the news, a book a friend recommends, something someone says, an image, an experience. She believes that intuition plays a big role in her creative process and therefore, she likes to leave those avenues open.
She didn’t really feel that she has learned any new techniques lately but did have a word of advice about her medium…” Always wear a mask when spray painting. Your brain and your lungs are important.”
This winter, she, Dan Gerdeman and Andrew Ina made a trip to NYC. The NY trip was an experiment to see how people outside the Columbus community would react to S.Dot Gallery. We thought, why not take it to the “mecca” for art? By taking the gallery to the streets of NY, the dollhouse itself became street art. AND it was a great success!!
And, as if all this isn’t mind-boggling enough, she is also one of the founders of Creative Arts of Women (CAW). She and Helma Groot (Dutch artist) co-founded this collective in 2009 for anyone who identifies with females/women. In addition, they wanted to provide a safe environment for women artists as they sometimes need a safer environment to speak up and express their needs. The group of about 65 members meets once every two months, networks and shows with other female artists. The group usually has two large exhibitions a year. Perspective members can go to the CAW website to learn more about joining http://cawcolumbus.com
This fall, Stephanie is proud to bring the exhibition, Dangerous Impermanence to her alma mater, Fort Hayes’ Shot Tower Gallery. This exhibition questions the concept of scale, environment, equality and gender roles. Art work will include installations, a documentary and a solo exhibit of her ‘ghost girl’ paintings. The documentary, Tiny Out Loud, by filmmakers Andrew Ina and Dan Gerdeman, bridges Stephanie’s street art to her dollhouse galleries in support by 122 Kickstarter crowd-funders, the Greater Columbus Arts Council and a team of artists including writers, art administrators, musicians and visual artists. In addition, this exhibition will include a group exhibition of artists who participated in the film: Linda Ayala, Michael Bush, Cyrus Fire, Doug Fordyce, Helma Groot, Rob Jones, Lisa McLymont, Dante Rodriguez, Amanda Tirey and the S. Dot permanent collection. Stephanie hopes that those who experience Dangerous Impermanence will be nourished by a sense of community and have their sense of humor challenged. Opening reception for the show is September 5th. For more information about this, check out:
Well, I don’t know about you, but I am in awe of all that this lady has done and continues to do for the Central Ohio arts community as well as the world at large! There is certainly nothing Tiny about her or her talents and I can only say that I can’t wait to view the exhibition and see where else her art takes her!
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