Q & A with Stacey Rozich
First Amendment Gallery
Some Sort of Disrepair
Opening Reception - July 6th 7-10pm
Showing Through - July 26th
Illustrator and muralist Stacey Rozich has had a productive last couple of years. The full-time artist’s folk-inspired visions have been cemented into contemporary popular culture with her commercial works for musical acts like Father John Misty and Fleet Foxes as well as projects for Starbucks, The New Yorker, and Playboy Magazine (to name a few), and continues to propel herself into projects that transcend the formative 2D format many creatives are bound to. For her upcoming solo exhibition, “Some Sort of Disrepair,” Rozich reflects on the paths that have brought her to the present as well as the blocks she’s overcome to reveal an authentic creative trajectory highlighted by her masterful and familiar painting techniques. In preparing for, “Some Sort of Disrepair,” we asked the Seattle-born artist for a peak behind the curtain- or in this case, a peak behind the mask- and learned that one must often face and engage with our internal beasts in order to tame them.
Interview by L. Herrada-Rios
What are some of your own traditions (passed over or made up) that keep you positive and motivated? Are there any represented in your work? (Empty bags of Doritos come to mind haha)
I realize looking back on these last few months’ worth of process, I’m a fairly untraditional person. Left to my own devices, I tend to be unorganized so none come to mind. I prefer to infuse the visual trappings of folk traditions in my details: delicate patterns motifs within textiles and lovingly crafted masks to name a few. To add a person touch I like to pull small pieces of nostalgia — like the Doritos bags — into the compositions to offset the overarching mood. It’s like when you visit a beautiful historic site or cemetery there’s always little bits of contemporary refuse scattered around because people just can’t be bothered to find a trash can or they’re leaving it there on purpose. When I went to New Orleans a few months ago, I went on a tour of the St. Louis Cemetery no. 1. The tomb of the Voodoo high priestess, Marie LaVeau, supposedly also a noted hair stylist in her day, was littered with piles of bobby pins, plastic combs, gaudy pots of hair product. I found the juxtaposition of the two vastly different eras delightful; these stone monument have become the altar for the humble offerings of new generations.
While your work generally illustrates narratives that are an amalgamation of other cultures and folklore, for this series you have interjected more of a personal narrative, drawing inspiration from your own experiences in coping with anxiety as well as your individual growth. How are the characters that audiences will see in your upcoming show a reflection of your own triumphs or struggles? Do you think that as you embrace more of yourself and the world around you, the worlds of your character’s expands as well?
In the last year or so, I have struggled with my artistic motivation. I think a lot of artists experience this burn out in their art careers, so I had to keep that in mind when I was getting upset with myself. I forced myself to turn inward and mine my innermost depths, I guess. In the process I began to imagine these torments and fraught emotions as actors in costumes in a stage play. I started to build figures from the ground up, fold by fold, line by line. I could feel the dark cloud lifting as the pieces started coming together. The process of creating these larger narratives around my struggles helped exercise my demons, by giving them space to interact somewhere besides the dark recesses of my mind. Once I saw them rendered in paint they didn’t seem so haunting.
It has been often said that your pieces are very reminiscent of children’s books illustrations and I read that you were interested in evolving your work to include children’s books and young reader projects. What children’s books resonated with you as a kid and have continued to inspire you into adulthood?
The Dr. Seuss book, “What Was I Afraid Of?” stuck with me because of how bizarre and scary it was. It’s about a little boy who’s terrified by a disembodied pair of pants that chase him everywhere. He’s running and the pants are right behind him. He’s fishing in a boat on a pond and somehow the pants are catching up to him, rowing a boat! The whole color palette is done in dark tones so you can really feel the nightly dread he experiences. It’s an allegorical tale about confronting your fears of the unknown. That book haunted me but I would make my dad read it to me constantly. I hope I can have that warping effect on kids someday!
What, if anything, was learned in completing this show? Any new techniques, facts, or even personal findings?
I’ve learned to trust myself and to paint what I want. It’s easy to compare yourself to others but that’s never going to bring you peace. I have to continuously remind myself that! When I’m having a hard time I give myself a break by focusing on the meditative practice of painting fabric folds. I love painting fabric. It’s a way to get back to enjoying the process- that’s how I push through creative blocks, to just paint for fun. Also masks are super fun to make! I’ll be exploring more of that medium: it’s intoxicating to see my creations exist in physical form.
A tremendous thanks to Stacey for talking with us ahead of her new exhibition. First Amendment Gallery invites you to join us for the opening reception of “Some Sort of Disrepair” on Saturday July 6th from 7-10pm at 1000 Howard St. San Francisco. For further inquiries on the artist or available works, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.