About the Artist
Rodney Stuart was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Lives in Hood River, OR.
I have been fortunate in my life to have multiple careers as a studio artist, a curator both in museums and galleries and an art teacher in Seoul, Cairo, Sapporo and Taiwan. I feel comfortable working from one process to another. Most recently I have been working as an artist in residence in the Hood River public school system. My family has a tradition of collecting and I have collected folk art, photography, masks and figures most of my life.
Assemblage is a process that I have worked with in photography, paper collage, curating artist’s work and collecting. I love looking at things, surrounding myself with shapes, and filling boxes with odd materials to use in my studio.
Language particularly poetry has been a subject in my early collage work, appearing in my assemblage work as well as the alphabet garden in my masters thesis. Wood has always been a material that I have been drawn to. As a young boy in middle school I carved toy boats, constructed model airplanes and repaired my own wood sailboats. After college in the 1980’s I began to explore animal and figure shapes with found materials. The dog heads grew out of living next to a person who was training a puppy to be a bird dog and living with show dogs my parents raised. Mannerism in all things living has always fascinated me!
The oil stick series was a chance to explore color and represent mannerism from figure skating and windsurfing experiences in Maui. My great, grand mother was a figure skating champion in Canada and skating and dance have been a strong part of my athletic experiences. The ladder series was a take off point from the ladder form, which played an important role in supporting me in graduate school, as I was a professional tree pruner for two years. The spiral and circle series was a return to the circle form and reminded me of sailing ritual experiences where ropes and life saving devices are used.
The most recent subjects of heads and toys brought me back to a more active role in story and the use of story line, which I felt, was missing from earlier work. Toys have been a consistent theme of my collecting and making them has been an exercise in teaching and getting started in the studio. Titles have as much to do with my love of language as they do to insights into the work. The tiny library boxes, which were a commission for the arts in education of the gorge, brought both letters and heads into the architectural form, which has been an interest in my travels around the world.
The artists that I am intrigued by the most have a sense of authenticity in their approach to melding their life with their materials. With my own work I am going back to the characters I read about in books as a child, influences from my living in Asia, and things I have picked up from my dreams. I see my role as an artist more as a jester, shaman or storyteller. I try to place an importance on play, openness, humor and simplicity.
In this body of work I have tried to connect with my childhood, which has been a powerful source for my art. Making objects provides me with a way to impact people both through teaching and being a creative individual!