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Ellen Roehne - Human Nature - 3D virtual exhibition by Stan State University Art Galleries

Ellen Roehne - Human Nature

Thu, 03/04/2021 to Fri, 03/26/2021

curated by:

Artist Statement
This new body of work explores the nature of being human, with all of our complexities and conflictions- our birth, growth, aspirations, and mortality. Many of the works reference the dualities of humankind- innocence and evil, control and loss of control, perfectionism and chaos. How we balance these parts of ourselves is what makes us who we are, influencing how we see our place in relation to others and the world. The clay figures I create embody these attributes, often including ladders, bridges, and precariously stacked objects that reference these dualities. The human condition is a subject that continues to surface in my work, examining how we fit into nature.

The process of working with clay and mixed media is an integral part of the meaning behind each piece. I work through chance and accident, continuously making conscious and subconscious choices until the work feels finished. Creating with clay allows this fluidity to occur naturally. I am constantly adding, subtracting, pushing and pulling the clay until the figure emerges, oftentimes seemingly out of thin air. This was the case with Fragile. I was examining how far I could push the clay, when a face appeared. Other times the process is a struggle, the piece fighting me the whole way, as with Watching the Wheels. This sculpture was a completely different piece at the beginning. I finally had to let go of my original plans and take the leap. I feel that this openness is an important aspect of my process. By allowing the clay to have a voice in the story I am telling, hidden secrets may be revealed, providing answers that I might not even know I was seeking. This experimental approach is also part of the glazing process. The nature of glazing is that it is unpredictable. This is what draws me to it, the unknown. There is a sense of magic and wonder every time the kiln lid is opened to reveal what occurred during the firing process.

I also use many found objects in my work which often add a human element or history of past use. These may be gifts from friends, natural items discovered on long walks, or refuse laying on the side of the road. I love to use things that others would consider trash and give them a new life, seeing possibilities and beauty in the most commonplace items.
Overall, my art work examines what it means to be human, both the mundane and profound experiences we go through. Through my creative process, I strive to tell a story that relates to the viewer in our shared existence.

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