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Artist Statement

Published onJan 15, 2021
Artist Statement

Rose Frantzen painting a 2017 portrait for the Faces of Iowa State series.

Artist Statement

I am an oil painter who finds the human subject fascinating. The painting processes I utilize, the direct and alla prima approaches, often require a great deal of time engaged with my subject. I have found whenever I really meet someone, as I do when I paint them, I meet their dignity. This experience- together, creating a painting, sharing our lives/ our questions in conversations, in moments of silence, in moments of seeing and being seen, has taught me that people fascinate me, because people are complex. It has taught me that you can’t simply look at a person, think you know them, deposit them in a box, and label them. Yet, in the 21st century, with technology shrinking the world, transporting cultures, peoples, diseases, disasters, threats, ideas, values, solutions and problems into our pockets, we are overwhelmed with complexities. We want (think we need) boxes and labels, looking to people willing to simplify it all for us, people we understand, people like us, not like them, to make it way easier to digest, to feel safe, protected, relaxed, comfortable, happy.

Most of my career as a painter I have avoided making work that operates in the political realm, because I felt that art should not die with the time it is made. I believe art can speak to its time but should somehow transcend that time. However, with the weight of the 21st century and the national discourse becoming so divisive up to and since the 2016 elections, I felt compelled to take what I have learned from my experiences with dignified, fascinating, complex individuals into new works that explore ways to move the conversation forward.

My response became the In the Face of Illusion series. With its interplay of portraits, of individuals in dialogue with optical illusions, addressing our national conversations about identity, tribalism, and othering, this exhibition explores the likelihood that we misperceive others and even ourselves.


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