She Has a Way with Wood: Meet Melinda Rosenberg

melinda

Melinda Rosenberg is an amazing artist who I had the privilege of meeting through our mutual membership in CAW and seeing her unique pieces in both the Remnants show last summer and the Landmark show this past March.  Her wood pieces are complex and lovely and now on display at Sherrie Gallery through July 17th.  I had the opportunity to meet with her there to discuss her work and see the exhibit featuring some very new and exciting pieces.

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Let’s start with her background which is pretty diverse.She has a Bachelor of Art Education and MFA in Painting from The Ohio State University. While living in Taiwan, she also studied the Mandarin/Chinese language at Fu Jen University, Taipei, Taiwan. Asian culture definitely took hold and inspires many of her pieces.

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some of her newer works…love these!

She states that she has always loved art with drawing and painting being her first loves. From there she moved on to  improvisational dance.  Her most recent passion is wooden wall sculptures although both her painting and dance experiences have influenced her wall sculptures.  Many times I am exploring the edge between painting and sculpture – especially in the “X” series.  Dance is harder to qualify, but I know it is in there – perhaps in my process.
(The “X” Series explores the area between painting and sculpture. Although a formal investigation, these pieces also allude to age and new growth, artifice and natural and the fun of marking the wall with and ‘X’.)  While working on her MFA, Melinda became enthralled with wood after seeing artist Ree Morton’s work at the New Museum in NYC. When she returned to Columbus, as she puts it, she went crazy doing just about anything with wood: tree trunks. painting wood along it’s grain, making altars until she finally landed upon her own interpretation of wood as art.
x series

X-43

The growth history of a tree is one of the reasons I love wood. The growth history seen in the wood grain and how wood decays is very important. When my daughter was three, it was fall and in our backyard there are tons of trees and there were leaves everywhere. She ran out to this pile of leaves and picked up a leaf and screamed, “Mommy, I found a leaf.” She was pure joy that she had found this leaf. I think that’s it. She had her finger on the pulse of life to appreciate something like that so much. With wood, it is my way to get at the pulse of life. I want to be able to put my finger on something that is alive. It is metaphorically, for me, the whole great life thing that we’re a part of.  
(courtesy of CAW newsletter and author,  Allison Buenger)
love seat

Love Seat

So many things have inspired her but she really feels that inspiration depends on the piece of artwork.  Some things are constant in her works, however.  She is inspired by the natural world – loving hiking, camping and traveling.  Along the way,  she picked up ideas and wood, such as driftwood from Cape Cod, cholla cactus skeletons from Palm Springs, and Mulberry branches from the Smokey Mountains. The art and architecture of the Japanese Tea House are deeply inspirational for her, where natural elements blend with man made in a very simple way.  Sometimes found wood is the inspiration, where the turn of a branch inspires a form.  Often thoughts about painting and it’s ability to confound perception interest me as I toy with how paint and form interact.  Sometimes I have a personal conflict that I want to resolve, and although it may not be apparent to anyone but myself, I work it out in my work.
My creative process seems to have a life of its own now that I work on my art full time.  Lately, I feel like I am hanging on for the ride.
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She told me that she loves to add elements to her pieces that lead her audience to take a different perspective, like the manner in which she might paint an angle that is unexpected on her ‘X series’ pieces or adding a piece of wood in an extraordinary way to highlight the grain.
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my favs

After retiring from teaching art at Thomas Worthington High School for 25 yearsshe stated that she is loving focusing on her own art, stretching herself and letting the wood speak to her.  She really has been working full tilt recently with getting ready for the current show but she doesn’t see herself slowing down any time soon.  She would like to have more of a national presence so that is on her to do list, too.
books

Books

Melinda sells her work at Sherrie Gallerie in Columbus, Ohio and has a show there through July 17th featuring  the “X” series, some boat forms, and several new series. She also shows at Haen Gallery in Asheville, NC, and CIRCA Gallery in Minneapolis, MN.
boats

Boats  (Remnants at Urban Arts Space)

In the last 3 years, her work has received many accolades.  In 2014 her work was featured on the poster for the show “Best of 2014” from the Ohio Crafts Council.She was awarded an Aid to Individual Artist Grant from the Ohio Arts Council and a materials grant from the Greater Columbus Arts Council in 2015. Most recently, her work was selected in a competition to be one of the prizes awarded to Columbus area businesses for their support of the arts.  The award, The Community Arts Partnership Award,  was provided by The Greater Columbus Arts Council and has been chosen for a 7 piece installation at the James Cancer Hospital.
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Melinda at Sherrie Gallery in front of the ‘x series’

I am so thrilled that I got to see her work and had the chance to talk more with her.  If I could have afforded it, I would’ve bought out her show!!!!  You really need to get down to Short North to see this show as her work is amazing.  Oh, BTW, she will have a continued presence at the gallery with fewer pieces on display. After seeing the new direction she has gone with wood, I am anxious to see what else she has in store for us!
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