Role-playing with Clare Rojas

Exhibit Through the Woods offers delicious conundrum

Clare Rojas' exhibition Through the Woods at the ACA Gallery of SCAD is a delicious conundrum. Five years worth of Rojas' prints, paintings, and drawings deftly relate a series of fables with messages as varied as her influences. The mythology extends to the artist herself: Rojas will close the show Thurs., April 1 at 6 p.m. with a performance by her banjo-picking alter ego, Peggy Honeywell.

Rojas appropriates, mixes and matches everyday images. A mysterious narrative connects three works hung together on one of the gallery's walls. In "Red Hooded Man," a bearded male with slanted eyes and an aquiline nose appears in profile, dressed in a flat red hood. It would seem that Little Red Riding Hood has undergone a kind of sex change. Below him, "Barn with Yellow Sun" reveals the little structure awash in tones of gray and outfitted with patterned doors. The barn sits nestled in a flat field of red grass; a small yellow circle perched in the sky just above its roof. "Maddy" offers a color aquatint etching of a dog-like animal in profile, but it's uncertain if it's the Big Bad Wolf, a predatory fox or a family pet. All three works playfully evoke folk art and fairy tales. The combination feels like being on a rocking horse without knowing precisely which way it's rocking.

Rojas renders many of her works here on substrates of paper, wood or cloth. All are painted in a lovingly flat way with solid colors outlined in black or contained in a geometric shape. Rojas' use of gouache, a distinctly luminous opaque watercolor, lends richness to the works' one-dimensionality. In addition to figurative compositions, the artist conjures inventive botanicals – ingenious simplifications and stylizations of form and geometry.

Through the Woods is rife with portraits – perhaps self-portraits. But like an actress taking on a character with many guises and disguises, Rojas presents a complicated tableau. This is especially true for the female farmer in "Final Sun with Poppies." She's dressed in a mustard-colored tunic, heavy boots on her feet, a bun in her hair. Her right hand floats outstretched, palm down, as if trying to protect the flowers from the glaring sun. There are parallels in color and form between the sun and her dress, suggesting an intimate connection between the woman and nature.

Rojas taps into every kind of people's art – from graffiti to street signs to the hexes on the sides of barns in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Ultimately, Rojas aligns herself with those icons of feminist art who draw on vernacular imagery to examine their own identities and roles as women. It's as if she's Grandma Moses dancing around the barnyard dressed like Frida Kahlo while blowing kisses to Kara Walker.

More By This Writer


Thursday March 10, 2011 10:14 am EST

  • Shara Hughes
  • "These Sweets are too Sweet"

It's difficult to live and work as an artist anywhere. Atlanta especially has its own particular set of pluses and minuses: The city’s a good place to live, but many artists here struggle to maintain their careers. Painter Shara Hughes, who went to high school at Lovett and graduated six years ago from the Rhode Island School of Design, is not...

| more...


Tuesday November 9, 2010 01:29 pm EST

  • Courtesy Sandler Hudson Gallery
  • Mario Petrirena's "Eyes Wide Shut, 2010"

A hundred years ago, Pablo Picasso glued an image of chair caning onto one of his cubist oil paintings and collage was born. Actually, that might be oversimplifying it just a bit. The technique of collaging (the process of making new compositions from existing images cut and pasted together on a surface) has been around...

| more...


Thursday October 7, 2010 09:00 am EDT

  • Courtesy Marcia Wood Gallery
  • "Arcadian Troubles" by Timothy McDowell

“Printmaking camp” is what artist Joanne Mattera called the experience on her blog. This past summer, Atlanta gallerist Marcia Wood invited six of her most seasoned painters she shows to participate in a weeklong printmaking workshop last June at Connecticut College under the guidance of master printer Timothy McDowell....

| more...


Monday August 16, 2010 03:30 pm EDT
Discarded rubber works and photogravures examine the artist's process and place | more...


Thursday July 15, 2010 03:00 pm EDT
The High Museum's Signs of Life: Photographs by Peter Sekaer is the sleeper photographic exhibition of the summer. A contemporary of Walker Evans and a student of Berenice Abbott, Sekaer was well-known in the 1930s and '40s but slipped through the cracks after his death in 1950, only to be rediscovered in the last few decades. Under its outgoing curator of photography, Julian Cox, the High has... | more...
Search for more by Deanna Sirlin

[Admin link: Role-playing with Clare Rojas]