- Ellen Roehne - Human Nature
- Virtual Exhibition Now Open: March 4 – 26, 2021
- Register Here for the Artist Talk on Zoom
- View the catalog
This new body of work explores the nature of being human, with all our complexities and contradictions- our birth, growth, aspirations, and mortality. Many of the works reference the dualities of humankind- innocence and evil, strength and frailty, dominance and subservience, order 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 our surroundings. The clay figures I create embody these attributes, often including ladders, bridges, and precariously stacked objects that reference these dichotomies. The human condition is a subject that continues to surface in my work, examining our place in the natural world.
I work through chance and accident, continuously making conscious and subconscious choices until the work feels finished. Creating with clay and found objects is integral to the meaning behind each piece, allowing this fluidity to occur intuitively. Many of the new works are built in parts, evoking children’s toys such as dolls or puppets with disjointed limbs and heads. Figures are oftentimes in tentative relationships with one another, their spaces, and the objects they possess, begging the question, “Who is in control?” Is one in the role of the master and the other the puppet? This speaks to the larger question of who is directing our own lives. Do we have free will to make our own decisions or is there an omniscient power guiding our existence? This concept is also an important part of my creative process- letting go of control and allowing the clay to have a voice in the story I am telling. Through this method, 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, which is often unpredictable, revealing surprises each time I open the kiln. The found objects in my work add a sense of mystery as well, questioning who owned them and what was their function. These may be gifts from friends, natural items discovered on long walks, or refuse discarded on the side of the road. I love to reimagine these objects and give them new meaning in relation to the figures I create.
Overall, my artwork 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 experience.
Ellen Roehne Curriculum
- Cirriculum Vitae.pdf
- April 20 – May 7, 2010
- Reception: April 22 at 5:30 pm
Although much of my work is comprised of a variety of media there is a common thread of the narrative throughout. For me, the act of creating art is a connection- to the past, to nature, to others, to beauty and to spirit. The art work is the story, however obscure, that ties these elements together, weaving pieces of my life in a collection of visual stories. Finding beauty in the small insignificant things, living with a sense of awe and gratitude at the infinite potential of nature- in essence to see the world with the eyes of a child, that is my goal as an artist. These common human experiences inform the content of each piece of artwork. I strive to make work that resonates with viewers, giving each piece a presence beyond the physical limitations of the materials.
Lost and Found
- January 3 to February 1, 2007
- Reception: January 11, 6:30-8:00pm
- Artist Talk at 7:00pm
Modesto artist, Ellen Roehne, is inspired by the beauty she discovers in ordinary objects and materials. A mother of two small children, she strives to see the world with a child’s eyes, rediscovering the wonder and excitement of everyday existence. Roehne sometimes uses found objects and unusual media to portray her daily life, elevating the mundane through the use of repetition in a form of physical meditation. This is reflected in the piece, “Random Thoughts: September-December 2006,” a visual diary created with small sketches of ideas, images from daily occurrences, and inspirations derived from activities of her children. These drawings are done on plastic which is then shrunk to approximately 1’’x 2’’ rectangles and hung on the wall in rows reminiscent of a calendar.
Roehne is also fascinated with the idea of play, something that comes naturally to us as children but is grown out or educated out of us as adults. It is in this spirit of play and unrestricted imagination that much of her art is derived. Many of Roehne’s pieces reflect the idea of toys and play but in a much more formal way. Works such as “Sweet Menagerie 2”, a series of clay pieces which look like large animal cookies tarnished over time, borrow from childhood imagery but seem as if they could have been excavated, revealing years of use as well as neglect.
All of Roehne’s current artwork explores childhood, play and imagery of motherhood through the use of found objects, ordinary materials, and clay. She strives to rediscover the wonder and innocence of the past, seeing the world with renewed curiosity inspired by her own children.
Updated: May 30, 2023