Pam Rogers

Arlington, VA | by May 23, 2016

Notes on Pam Rogers

It wasn’t the art scene that brought Pam Rogers to the Washington, D.C. area from her native Colorado, but true love. Her husband had been commuting back and forth to D.C. for two years when Pam decided to uproot and move so they could be together. That was the fall of 2008, shortly after she received her MFA. She didn’t know anyone here and knew very little about the art scene. Now, almost eight years later Pam is a well known artist in the area.

Her light-filled studio is located upstairs at the wonderful Arlington Arts Center (AAC). The building was originally built as the Clarendon Elementary School in 1910 and is now a designated Arlington County Landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Pam has been a resident fellow there for the last four years and nine months. This will be her last year at the AAC as residencies are restricted to a maximum of six years.  She describes her experience as an amazing one. A self-described introvert, she is content to create art in her own space and at the same time be surrounded by the energy of the other artists. It is this energy that makes it an addictive part of being there.  Connecting with the artists through encounters in the halls, galleries, kitchen and more, makes her want to be in the studio 24/7. The friends she has made there have pushed her to look at her work from other perspectives on a regular basis. So during this last year at AAC, she plans to savor every moment before moving on to new pastures.

Pam’s body of work is amazingly consistent and readily recognizable. She communicates through paintings and drawings of botanicals — often what I call twisted elements. I interpreted her work as a statement on the negative impact of humanity on nature. However, Pam tells me that her work is more of a personal narrative and she often approaches her paintings and sculptures with a particular person or event in mind like one would portraiture. The plants she depicts are metaphors for people and places. Historically, she explains, botanical imagery has been used metaphorically as seen in the old Dutch master paintings. Referencing the old masters is important in the content of her work and this nod to them is seen again in her process. Pam mixes her own paint and one of her favorite go-to ‘recipe book’ is by the 15th century Florentine artist, Cennini titled The Craftsman’s Handbook.

Frequently and subconsciously, she utilizes repetitive elements in her work such as bindings, metal objects and the compass rose. These so called twisted elements and bindings are an intentional motif in her work that represents duality.  Pam describes these bindings as stemming from her personal issues of restriction. Restrictions that may be self-imposed, real or imagined, imposed by society, her family or herself.

Conversely, bindings can represent warmth and protection such as the swaddling of a baby. It can be a means to calm or make one feel safe and secure. She claims our journey through life is to go from being safe and secure while being swaddled; to grow and walk and mature through the process of un-swaddling.

On the subject of security, Pam talked about risk taking as an artist. She approaches each new piece with no advance planning except with a particular encounter or relationship in mind. Sometimes she simply puts down some pigment on paper or panel and sees what will emerge. Her sculptures are generally inspired by each season and what plants are available to collect and bind at the time.  Each one is a surprise. Pam enjoys the push/pull element of the work; what she can and cannot control. This outcome is both exciting and frightening. But the outcome from these struggles she claims, are always her best.

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