Vitality Turns Memory into Art

Vitality, an art show by senior Julia Sarene Rosenberg fuses varied media to create a collection of pieces that serve as portal into memories, both hers and the viewers’. “Much of my work is tied to memory,” Rosenberg wrote in her personal statement. “The very act of remembering can take us to many places. In my work I choose to focus not only on distinctive memories and stories from my life, but also on memories that feel more eternal and abstract to me.” 

(photo by Pauline Shapiro)

Rosenberg further describes her work as “direct and improvisational, but not at all by accident. It’s all very connected and rooted.” 
Indeed, her use of vibrant colors and cellular shapes pull the pieces together while the use of various media allows the artist to take the message and aesthetic quality of her work in several directions. 
The most striking piece in the collection, “Place of Entry and Departure: A Commemoration” is a shelter located in the center of Fisher Hall. The structure, which Rosenberg said “serves as an in-between space, but also exists in itself,” is painted in vibrant blue and accentuated with carved wood panels. Each panel depicts an image associated with growth, such as the sun, trees and human figures. Rosenberg said these panels were the reason she built the larger structure. “I wanted something to hold the wood relief carvings with integrity,” she said. 
Another striking feature of the structure is the curved roof covered with an elaborate crocheted blanket made by her grandmother. Rosenberg said, “Crocheting was very important for the women on my father’s side of the family.” This skill she learned while growing up has influenced her work immensely. 
“I was fascinated with the detail [of crocheted items] and would study them with my hand,” she said. This attention to detail and complex patterns reminiscent of crochet can be seen in all of Rosenberg’s work.
Rosenberg also invites the viewer to walk through the structure. This interactive quality was important to Rosenberg. “The house is a turning point for my art,” she said. “Interactiveness is not always included in my art.” 
Rosenberg creates an even more interactive area in one corner of the room. There a lamp, a pillow to sit on and a shelf create a comfortable area where the viewer can peruse Rosenberg’s smaller projects. Her handmade books contain a collection of memories and drawings; one contains the doodles Rosenberg cut out of her science notebooks from her first two years at Oberlin. Another speaks directly to the mission of Rosenberg’s work: “I feel that I was put here for the past and the future,” she writes in the book, “kind of like I’m a transmitter. My carvings, drawings, paintings, visions — they’re not mine alone.” 
Rosenberg demonstrates her ability to combine several media into one work in “Bedtime Conversations with Those No Longer Here.” The piece speaks directly to Rosenberg’s fascination with the celestial and spiritual: “I have a growing interest in the place where the “real”/material world meets the mystical/spiritual world,” she writes. 

The background of the three-dimensional work is a wood panel depicting human faces on a night sky. Between this panel and the foreground, there is a window, a gateway connecting the material to the celestial. The foreground serves as a shelf for three objects made of metal wire: an eye, an ear and a mouth, all vehicles of communication.
“Bedtime Conversations…” is suggestive of Betye Saar, an artist who Rosenberg sees as having a huge impact on her own pieces. Saar’s work has “influenced and inspired me greatly, and also has allowed me to more fully understand my own self and work,” wrote Rosenberg. 
Three black and white paintings on Fisher’s far wall contrast greatly with the rest of the show. The lack of color makes them static, a far cry from the flow and dynamic quality so well captured in the rest of the collection. 
Large and imposing, the paintings are out of place and seem to be more a demonstration of Rosenberg’s ability to create highly stylized designs than anything else. 
But this lack of energy is compensated for in the rest of Rosenberg’s work. Her representations of memories are presented in a highly personal manner, yet become accessible with Rosenberg’s willingness to share them through her art. The viewer becomes enveloped in the colors and textures, recognizing the unmistakable vitality of Rosenberg’s work.



Patois Gives Rhythmic Interpretation of Jamaica

They Might Be Giants and SR-71 to Jam at Spring Fling

Vitality Turns Memory into Art