Columbus Makes Art Presents: Stephanie Rond and Columbus Open Studio & Stage
Stephanie Rond is Columbus-based mixed media artist whose colorful and feminist work can be seen on walls around the world, both inside and out. Rond is one of the original founders of Columbus Open Studio & Stage (COSS), a two-day event in which Columbus artists welcome guests to tour their studios and demonstrate their work.
Rond is one of more than 30 artists who will showcase their studios during the third-annual COSS on Sept. 29-30. Guests can also get a preview of the participating artists’ work now at the COSS preview exhibition at the Main Library’s Carnegie Gallery, on view through Sept. 29. We caught up with Rond to chat about her work, the origins of COSS and what she’ll be doing over the COSS weekend.
Nick: How long have you been creating, and how do you describe your work for those who don’t know it?
Stephanie: Like most artists, I’ve been creating ever since I could hold a crayon. How long have I been creating since I put in my 10,000 hours? About seven years. My work is hand-cut stencil, spray paint and a collage of other materials. I create work in outdoor and indoor spaces challenging ideas on gender, environment and scale. My work is representational, depicting a character named “ghost girl” or “ghost woman” as an active citizen in her environment. She represents the ghost of humanity or what I like to think of as the good and love in all of us.
Nick: Is there a particular piece you’re most proud of?
Stephanie: I’m particularly proud of the exhibition I recently completed for Sharon Weiss Gallery. The exhibit, titled Seeds of Kindness, was a challenge of new materials, growth and attempting to answer the question, “What does a campaign for kindness look like?”
Nick: Who are some of your greatest influences?
Stephanie: I’ve been lucky to have mentors such as Teresa Weidenbusch and Pheoris West. Also, my husband Nate Oliver (although my number one fan) always keeps me challenged and honest. I’m usually keeping my eyes and ears open, listening to any voice of an idea that whispers or shouts at me.
Nick: You were part of the team that created COSS. What was the impulse behind the event?
Stephanie: About 13 years ago, Nate and I were thinking of relocating to Portland, Oregon. As I researched the art scene, I came upon their open studio event and thought it was brilliant. I kept that seed of an idea in my pocket for 10 years, waiting for the collaborators that could make it happen. I’ve been fortunate to work with Amy Leibrand, Catherine Bell Smith and Lisa McLymont on several projects. I pitched the idea and they were IN from the beginning. Later, realizing the need for a bigger platform, we pitched the idea to GCAC. The Arts Council loved the idea and Columbus Open Studio & Stage was off and running. I am grateful to the Arts Council for taking over the event so that we four can focus on careers, families, friends and finding time to make our own artwork.
Nick: What’s it like working now as a showcasing artist for it?
Stephanie: I’m super excited! How lucky I am to experience both sides of the event? As a spray artist, dust gets everywhere — so I’ve spent days dusting and cleaning. I usually clean my studio before a new body of work, but being on the tour is taking cleaning to a whole new level. I’m also a firm believer in accessible and affordable art, so I’ve spent a great deal of time making work for collectors, from the new to the established.
Nick: What are you planning to showcase or demonstrate over the COSS weekend?
Stephanie: Tour guests will begin at our front door where they will get to see an amazing collection of Columbus-based artists. I’m very proud of my colleagues, so I want to show them off. S.Dot Gallery, the dollhouse gallery I’ve been running since 2011, will also be on view. As guests head to the backyard, they will have an opportunity to see some of my recent outdoor work before entering the garage. The garage is a two car, with a loft. The loft is where my studio is, I’ll be demonstrating and sharing the stencil process. The downstairs — where the cars usually live — will be turned into a pop-up gallery.
Nick: What’s your favorite thing about the Columbus arts scene right now?
Stephanie: That on any given day there is something — if not multiple somethings — going on around town. There is always something happening!
Visit Stephanie and other Columbus artists in their studios on Sept. 29-30 during Columbus Open Studio & Stage (COSS). You can also see her work in the COSS preview exhibition at the Main Library’s Carnegie Gallery or her exhibition exhibit Seeds of Kindness at Sharon Weiss Gallery. Purchase your tour maps and schedule backstage theater tours for COSS at columbusopenstudioandstage.com!
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art and sharing information about exhibitions, performances, concerts and more at ColumbusMakesArt.com. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.