Arts feature: Stephanie Rond has even bigger ideas coming

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Local artist Stephanie Rond has never been one to think small. Anyone who visited her thought-provoking, multi-media exhibit “Dangerous Impermanence” last September at Fort Hayes Shot Tower Gallery knows this all too well.

But for her upcoming projects, including participating in this Saturday’s Connector Series at the Columbus Museum of Art, the multi-disciplinary creative has been thinking much bigger — in both physical and metaphysical terms.

Rond has been perfecting the construction of larger pieces, and is gearing up to reveal the fruits of that exploration. The first massive panels will be unveiled out front of the museum during The Connector series with two more projects coming soon. Rond will also display pieces in the Creative Arts of Women (C.A.W.) group show at OSU Urban Arts Space, opening May 26, and during a collaborative endeavor with Bexley students and fellow local artist/teacher Helma Groot, also beginning the end of May.

“I wanted to see if I could work larger. Especially in the street art realm, I’m seeing what’s becoming mural work rather than street work. Although I think [my] messages can be the same size, the work itself has just become larger,” Rond said during an April interview at the studio in her Clintonville home, adding she’d also like to create more permanent, large-scale street art.

“For these pieces that are 13-, 14-feet tall, it’s a matter of piecing the three tiers together and then figuring out where the lines match up — especially with stencil work this is really challenging. But I like the aesthetic of what stencil looks like, so I don’t want to leave that realm. I think a lot of the bigger murals are free-hand, but I still … want it to look a certain way, that camouflage-y [aesthetic]. I feel like when people see my work, they know it’s my work just based on the way I free-hand cut these stencils.”

In the philosophical realm, Rond has also never been one to shy away from meaningful positions, as she’s often addressed gender dynamics, the power of community — especially a creative one — and social and personal issues. Now Rond is contemplating spiritual elements and the connectivity of consciousness.

“My father passed away in October, so I’ve kind of been obsessed with the universe and space, and just connectivity. I started thinking [about our place] in terms of the universe right away, and then just started thinking about the stars. [That led to thinking about] the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and how the Columbus community has so many amazing people and organizations that it would be cool for people to give homage to what we have going on,” Rond said of how she developed the activities for the Connector Series.

For that event, Rond will present the large panels she rendered using her stencil and spray-paint technique, with the goal of connecting Columbus’ imaginative minds by having attendees design their own stars to add to the panels.

“That’s kind of the point of the series. It’s not only to connect with an artist, but [to] validate that you are a creative too. It’s always nice to hear that somebody likes what you’re making. As artists, we starve for that constantly. But to have somebody say, ‘Oh that looks great’ or, ‘You’ve got it,’ or, ‘Tell me about this person whose name you wrote,’ is just [positive],” Rond said. “I imagine my dad’s name will go up there. And there will be different reasons people will be using their stars — and all those reasons are right.”

Rond consistently projects a positive outlook, whether interacting with fellow artists, random strangers who ask her about a street art piece she’s installing, and even in her own artwork. But she’s well aware that optimism and encouragement aren’t always how the world works, and she addresses that, too.

“I think a lot of times my work leans toward comfortable and positive, and then once you spend some time in that comfortable place you can start to unearth the underlying things in it. I don’t think [one of the pieces for the C.A.W. exhibit] is super comfortable. Sometimes when I make things like this, it’s kind of shocking to everyone’s system, but they still get it.”

Even though Rond tries to unearth the positive in any situation, even the most dire, she won’t have to Saturday.

“I think [the Connector Series] is a brilliant idea and it’s great the museum supports local artists in this way. It supports local artists, but also engages the community with the artist,” Rond said. “I remember being an intern there when I was [in high school]. Now I’m going to be in front of the museum?! That’s pretty badass. I’m excited about it.”

Photo by Meghan Ralston

Columbus Museum of Art

1-4 p.m. Saturday, May 8

480 E. Broad St., Downtown