Interview by Amanda Quinn Olivar, West Coast Editor
Jennifer Rochlin was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1968 and lives in Los Angeles, California. She received a BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder (1991), an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1999), and participated in an exchange at the Universität der Künste, Berlin, Germany in 1998. Rochlin’s work has been featured in exhibitions such as Home Show, Revisited, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA (2011); Open Daybook, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA (2011); MKE-LAX, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Milwaukee, WI (2012); Venice Beach Biennial, in conjunction with Made in LA 2012, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and Venice, CA (2012); Sculptures, 356 Mission, Los Angeles, CA (2013); Machine Project Guide to the Gamble House, Gamble House, Pasadena, CA (2014); Sex Pot, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA (2016); and The Brightsiders, Verge Center for the Arts, Sacramento, CA (2017). Rochlin is the recipient of the Individual Artist Grant from the Belle Foundation (2015) and the Durfee Foundation ARC grant (2007).
What was the aha moment that led you to art... and did Los Angeles play a part in your career decision?
I didn't know I wanted to be an artist until my sophomore year of college. I was more into dance in junior high and high school. I took a drawing class and at the same time moved into a house close to the mountains with two friends who were both very creative people. We basically spent the next two years going to class and then coming home and making art: super 8 experimental films, drawing on walls, or spray painting our basement for band practice. It was a really formative time for me and from there it was a natural extension to pursue art.
How has living in LA informed your approach and aesthetic?
When I first moved to LA eighteen years ago, I lived in an apartment at the top of Elysian Heights in Echo Park. It was a block away from Elysian Park and I probably walked or ran in that park every day for the sixteen years that I lived there. A lot of my work deals with the memories that come from a location in time, and that park was the landscape for my life through breakups and having children. It was a real constant in my life, and it often reappears in my work.
When and how did you first feel embraced by our LA art community?
When I first moved here in 2000 I was really involved in the Chinatown scene and loved the communal spirit of it. I was in a handful of group shows, and I had my first solo show at Black Dragon Society in 2007. That was when I felt embraced by the LA art community. More recently, I was working at Center for Contemporary Ceramics at Cal State Long Beach making work for my first solo show at The Pit. I loved the sense of camaraderie among the artists who were working there at the same time. I remember sharing almonds and tampons with Ruby Neri, hanging out by the kilns talking about love and life with Jennie Jieun Lee, and getting encouragement and suggestions from Anna Sew Hoy. It is a real gift to the LA community to have a space like that where artists can come and make large scale, experimental work in ceramics.
The exhibition speaks about the vitality of our art community. Which pioneering LA artist influenced you the most? And whose work do you find intriguing right now?
I wasn't particularly influenced by any of the pioneering artists from LA. When I moved here I was completely in awe of Frances Stark's work and consider her a pioneering artist, at least to me. Her work is so inspiring because you get insight into little snippets of how her brain works. She makes connections between seemingly disparate ideas, and it always provides me with new insights on life. She's just a fucking genius! I just saw Mimi Lauter's work for the first time at her solo show and I was really inspired by the textures she created with the building up and scraping down of pastels. I think we are both obsessed with this excavating process that comes from scraping off the surface and how it is another tool to help convey the ideas in the work.
What is your favorite art accident?
I just had a good art accident while working at this residency in France this summer. I was trying to find a way to depict bite marks on an image of a back and instead of painting them, I had the idea to just bite the clay and make the marks that way. I loved the physical act of biting the clay and the way it looked so much that I made a pot that has a pattern of just bite marks. I'm excited to see where this new way of "mark-making" leads.
How They Ran
Over The Influence
August 12 - September 5, 2018