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Curated Conversations: Exploring Immersive Collage by Rebecca Rose

SuperRare Labs Curator Paloma Rodriguez sits down with Rebecca Rose to discuss her background, creative process, and latest artwork release on SuperRare titled "Charades of Youth."

Rebecca Rose - Charades of Youth - 2023 - Second Frame - 3D Digital Collage NFT - Collage Artist - SuperRare Editorial
Paloma,
Oct 18, 2023
1 min read
Rebecca Rose - Charades of Youth - 2023 - Second Frame - 3D Digital Collage NFT - Collage Artist - SuperRare Editorial

Curated Conversations: Exploring Immersive Collage by Rebecca Rose

Paloma,
Oct 18, 2023
1 min read
 

Rebecca Rose is an award winning artist exploring various collage methods which include: sculptural, digital, immersive, and holographic. Rose's work is collected across several private collections and exhibited globally. Her work has been showcased amongst reputable institution's, galleries, and art fairs such as the Andy Warhol Museum, the 2017 Whitney Biennial held at the Whitney Museum, Art Miami, and Beijing Design Week. Rose has also been awarded prestigious fellowship opportunities from residency programs such as Ox-Bow/SAIC and the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Additionally, Rose has been a recipient of grants co-sponsored by the Robert Rauschenberg and The William De Kooning Foundations. Rose currently lives and works in Florida. 

After receiving her BFA in Studio Art from NAU, Rose went on to lead creative projects at the Walt Disney Co. for over 18 years. It was during this time that she managed teams of artists specializing in body paint and was exposed to opportunities such as painting directly for the Royal family of Morocco.  While working full-time at Disney, Rose worked simultaneously on her individual artist career creating bodies of sculptural collage work and large installation work for galleries. After Covid-19, She directed her full attention towards her fine art career. 

Rebecca's work has consistently evolved over the years from tangible collage work to 3D digital work. The approach to her practice as well as her interests are rooted deeply within how technology may offer additional layers to how a viewer may experience and interact with her work. It is through the intersection of art and technology that she hopes to create seamless narratives that challenge the viewer to step into and truly immerse themselves with the the story before them. 

"Disney had a huge influence on me growing up. It was like you were stepping into a life size art installation. I saw the park as a giant sculpture garden and every time I visited it was as if I was stepping into the narrative." - Rebecca Rose

 

To give a timeline across her Rose's artist career, Rose began working with analog collage in 1993, digital collage in 1998, sculptural collage in 2000, sculptural collage art installations in 2001, holograms in 2015, and digital collage and holograms on the blockchain in 2021. At present Rebecca is working on narrative driven 3D collages. Long-term these iterations will be brought into VR as glb art installations, which allow the viewer to virtually walk through the piece. Beyond that she aims to bring these works back into the physical space as life-sized art installations introduced through holograms.

Her incredible talent in visual storytelling allows viewers to interact and experience her work through these multi-dimensional realities. Asking us as the observer to question what we see before us as a reflection as well as introspection.

 

Rebecca Rose - Digital Collage NFT Art - Collage Artist - SuperRare Editorial 2023
Rebecca Rose 

Paloma: How did you first get started in art?

Rebecca: I don’t actually remember because I started really young. I recently found a box of childhood books and journals where I firmly wrote “I’m an artist.” It’s crucial to listen to your younger self and let them guide you to become who you’ve always known yourself to be.

P: Escapism is defined as "a tendency to seek distraction and relief from realities or engaging in the fantasy" Can you tell me about your interest in escapism as it relates to themes explored within your work?

R: Isn’t escapism wonderful! The contrast between escapism and reality is fascinating and psychologically necessary. Our imaginations are so powerful that if we shut that portion of our mind off we truly lose a part of ourselves. Escapism serves our base need for mental diversion. I enjoy exploring the contrast between what actually is and what could be, the probable and the improbable. 

Rebecca Rose - Charades of Youth - 2023 - Sixth Frame - 3D Digital Collage NFT - Collage Artist - SuperRare Editorial.JPG"Charades of Youth"  Frame #6 By Rebecca Rose, 2023.

P: Tell me about the influence that Walt Disney has on your work and process?

R: I grew up going to Disneyland and saw the park as a way to sort of step into a life sized sculpture. Every nook and cranny is built by artists, even the minute details that get overlooked like textures on rocks, filigree in wrought iron, and tiles within the mosaics. 

Those visits taught me the incredible power of storytelling, and more importantly the power of interacting within that story. It’s for this reason my work evokes a sculpted feel, as if you’re walking through the collage itself. In the early 2000’s I applied this concept of an interactive life sized sculpture and made a physical 30’ x 15’x 8’ walk through art installation collaged from 2D images which I screen printed on paper by hand. I cut out and arranged the physical prints into a a three dimensional plane to create the scene. Guests were encouraged to walk through the pathway in the middle of the piece and interact with it. My work now carries is the same approach yet digitally, 2D elements collaged into 3 dimensions with a greater emphasis on the narrative and storytelling. The artwork guides guests through a sculpted installation video meant to be understood through a first person point of view. The interactive element of my digital collage is in the works, but we’ll get to that below. 

"Collage is the baseline foundation to my work and each chapter informs the next. 20 years of exploring the medium is culminating as one and my current work ties those discoveries together. That full circle excites and drives me."
– Rebecca Rose 

P:  Can you tell me about your job at Disney and how that turned into an 18 year career?

R:  After graduating, I wanted to pursue one thing: an artistic role at Disney. It was around the time of the big animator layoffs so I knew options were limited. As a result, I got a job as a theatrical face painter thinking it would be temporary. I stayed in that department for 18 years and managed teams of 70 artists across properties in the United States and Japan. I worked on international commercials and tv spots, brainstormed new designs for in-park signage and social media, and painted for Fortune 500 corporate events, politicians, and celebrities. I traveled for events and for 4 years, I painted for the Royal Family of Morocco. Being an artist at Disney taught me discipline and artistic professionalism. Since Disney always build towards the future 5, 10, 20 years ahead, it also taught me how to build for that future through my art. 

P: How did you balance two jobs at once from working at Disney to your fine art career and how did you find time and energy to create? 

R:  I built a fine art career at the same time by compartmentalizing the two professions. From 9-5 I worked at Disney, then 5-2am I worked in the studio on my personal art practice. I absolutely loved my time at Disney yet at the end of the day I was making art for someone else’s vision, not my own. I had my own artistic voice to express and truly yearned for that voice to be heard and shared.

When you want something bad enough you make it happen, hell or high water. Awake and focused, an insatiable hunger took over which led to exhibitions in galleries and museums, press and publications, and my art in the collection of public figures.

– Rebecca Rose

 

P: What would you say from your experience are the pros and cons from working with a gallery?

R: I’m a big advocate for galleries.  I think they provide cultural importance and hit on certain sensibilities when we need to look at something visually meaningful. With so much art in the world, gallerists have a unique role in spotting talent and presenting that work to the public. They have skin in the game for an artist’s success and provide necessary marketing, overhead costs, and administrative support. I wish more galleries provided  transparency across to their network of collectors, and that they lowered their standard 50/50 commission split. However, I recognize that it’s perhaps a necessary expense to keep their lights on. 

Rebecca Rose - 2001 Art Installation - Collage Artist - SuperRare Editorial 2023"Unabridged Paper Doll Diner," by Rebecca Rose, 2001. 

Working with galleries is a meaningful business relationship and every artist must consider the pros and cons associated with it. Galleries offer validation, however there’s never been a better time to sustain an art career outside of the gallery system. If you have an internet connection, talent, and determination you can make a thriving career. Over the past few years, I’ve worked with galleries to onboard them into the web3 space and introduced digital native works to their exhibitions. Often my work is their first tokenized piece within their programming or exhibited collections, so it’s great to see galleries are starting to come around to the idea. I do think over time, if enough artists personally guide traditional galleries through the fundamental basics of the space, galleries showing tokenized artwork will be ubiquitous.

P: How autobiographical would you say the majority of your work is?

R: There’s a bit of me in all my works. I’m an optimist with awareness of how things can turn in an instant and as a result have learned to express personal triumph and tragedy through my work. Each of the pieces in my DeepCuts series -3D collages inspired by songs- serve as cautionary tales based on personal experiences and experiences I see played out in others. All of them convey relatable shared human conditions, emotions, desires, and challenges.

Rebecca Rose - Mama Said I Was A Fool - 2023 - First Frame - 3D Digital Collage NFT Art - Collage Artist - SuperRare Editorial

"Mama Said I was a fool" by Rebecca Rose, 2023.

P: How did you first get introduced to traditional fine art galleries? Who were the galleries you worked with?

R: I visited galleries and museums at an early age every other Tuesday with my best friend and both of our moms. My family wasn’t artistic, but they did recognize that in me from a young age and exposed me to a routine. A creative routine is invaluable in formative years because it normalizes sustained involvement and practice in a particular interest.  I started showing in galleries through open calls and juried exhibitions until my work and name became recognized enough to be invited to exhibit. In the past I’ve shown at Spoke Art Gallery in NY in San Francisco, Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco, Snap Gallery in Orlando, Parlor Gallery in New Jersey, seven of the art fairs during Miami Art Week, a few international design weeks and biennales, and eight museums including the Whitney. I now work with a mix of traditional and natively digital galleries. The aforementioned plus Octavia Gallery in New Orleans, Superchief Gallery in LA, Galerie Diapo in the Cote d’Azur, Iham Gallery in Paris, and ImNotArt Gallery in Chicago.   

Rebecca Rose - No Surprises Please - 2023 - First Frame - 3D Digital Collage NFT Art - Collage Artist - SuperRare Editorial"No Surprises Please" frame #1 by Rebecca Rose, 2023.

P: Can you tell me more about the multiplane camera and the influence it had stylistically over your work and in the way you introduce layering within your work?

R: When Walt Disney invented the multiplane camera in the 1930’s he revolutionized depth of field in animation through layered panes of glass. I apply this same concept to my collage work. When sculpting them in 3D, each transparent cutout layer has depth between them allowing the camera movement to pick up that distance and capture changes in speed, so the closer each layer is to the camera the faster it moves and the farther it is the slower and therefore indicative of how we perceive depth and movement in the real world.

P: I noticed you often remove faces from the characters found in your work, is there a specific intent behind this? 

R:  Faces are removed to represent all of us and yet none of us. It allows the viewer to place themselves within the role of any given figure and truly position themselves within the shoes of all the different characters. When we look at an image with a face sometimes the situation, feeling, or even meaning behind the piece is wrapped up in the identity of whom it visually represents. By removing the identities the figures can be anyone. If a main character is present, they intentionally face forward towards the viewer for a stronger connection while side characters are in profile or quarter view. Color and the lack of it is used in ways that contribute to the narrative and drive the story. Color is used in scenery whereas figures are in black and white which represents the psychological shades of gray and stark nature of human emotions.

Rebecca Rose - The Whole Town Is Waiting - 2023 - 3D Digital Collage NFT Art - Collage Artist - SuperRare Editorial"The Whole Town Is Waiting" By Rebecca Rose, 2023

P: Can you tell me about your Joan Mitchell residency programs? What was your experience like and what body of work did you create while there? Additionally, what was the most exciting portion of your experience working within this program?

R: Residencies provide artists a dedicated time and focus without any distractions to test out new concepts, explore your art more deeply, network with visiting curators and gallerists, and be involved in professional development programming.They really level up your game and mark points of maturation in a body of work. 

At Joan Mitchell, to get into the swing of a new studio space, I dove into quick 2-image collage studies to wet my whistle and get the ball rolling. The intent was to break the ice of my residency and get to work as soon as possible but those collage studies developed into a fully fledged contemplative series called Transatlantic. In a new city away from home, I focused on how different cities have more similarities than not. I dove into years of travel photos I took around the globe and paired them with each other when I found patterns in architecture, patterns in concept, and patterns in story. 

The 2 photos collaged have multiple miles and years between them, and each image only finds its partner when a pattern or relationship between the two emerges. “Flight 30 Joshua Tree - Rabat” is published in the December issue of Black and White magazine and lives in the Mondoir collection. “Flight 36: Saugatuck - New Orleans," in the Zack SuperRare Roses collection, was the hardest collage in the series to make, but not in the way you would think. It’s the hardest because the residency programs at Ox-Bow and Joan Mitchell are both highly competitive to be accepted to. Without attending those residencies those photos and that collage wouldn’t exist. In fact, without the Joan Mitchell residency the Transatlantic series at large wouldn’t exist. 

I also focused on single plane holographic collage that become holograms when displayed on Proto hologram units, “Loud As A Whisper” in the Spartan Black collection was also made at Joan Mitchell.

Rebecca Rose - Loud As A Whisper Process 2022 -  Joan Mitchell Artist Residency - Digital Collage NFT - Collage Artist - SuperRare Editorial 2023"Loud as a whisper" By Rebecca Rose, 2022

P: Tell me about your background in collecting art in your 20's and how it shaped your view of collecting and the art that you ultimately make yourself?

R:  I started collecting art in my 20’s while my peers started buying stocks. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the stock market, but I knew the art market.  I spent years studying art history, watching artist documentaries, monitoring secondary markets, and reading books about museum collections. It was this breath of knowledge I acquired through this that set the stage and allowed me to feel comfortable and informed while collecting. What made collecting art that much more meaningful as opposed to investing in the stock market was that it was something tangible and beautiful. I could live with and enjoy what I invested in everyday. 

Having studied art and the market, prepared me for my own work. Prior to NFT's, I included signed paper Certificates of Authenticity with detailed descriptions of materials and exhibition history for each piece to serve as provenance. It’s fitting that provenance and permanence are important facets in our tokenized digital culture because those concepts were already applied to my work and process. These elements now manifest automatically on-chain, through signed Verisart certificates of authenticity with the minted files and descriptions associated to the NFT.  Longevity is important to me and I care about the survival of my work. The Verisart certificates with back up files automatically transfer to collectors when sold. 

Collecting art myself taught me how to see through the eyes of a collector, what is expected and standard from that administrative point of view. Above all collecting taught me that connecting and resonating with a work of art is paramount.

P: What inspired your latest artwork "Charades of Youth: on SuperRare?

R: “Charades of Youth” in the Antxx collection was minted through Transient Labs’ new story inscriptions contract. It’s a cautionary tale inspired by the Janis Ian song “At Seventeen” which addresses growing up as the awkward or alienated kid, and I resonate with that feeling. I asked myself, how would someone alienated respond to their mistreatment and what would that response look like? What happens if they take control, rewrite their story, and change their life?

The piece opens to a classroom of kids and a lonely figure in the middle. The kids are gossiping and laughing while the main character has no friends and is excluded. This frame represents social alienation. At lunch the popular, well dressed kids sit next to each other and she’s isolated again. They can afford paid school lunches while she has to bring her lunch from home. This frame represents economic alienation. The next frame shows a basketball team with points on the scoreboard, they’re winning the game and the main character is not chosen to contribute. This frame represents alienation by capability. At the school dance, the main character puts forth effort to dress up in hopes to be included but the popular, fashionable kids still don’t accept her. This frame represents alienation by appearance.

 

 

Rebecca Rose - Charades of Youth - 2023 - Third Frame - 3D Digital Collage NFT - Collage Artist - SuperRare Editorial"Charades of Youth" Frame #3 By Rebecca Rose, 2023

At first, each frame appears as life sized scenes. It pulls back to show real toys on the side, revealing she’s been acting out what happens in her real life through toys in her dollhouse. The props have all been plastic toys and doll accessories up until now. The scale and size change and she’s physically larger than previous figures. She hovers over and looks down at everything as the omnipotent force because she’s now in control. 

This is where the camera movement’s speed begins to change. Before, speed is stable in movement -left to right, up to down, in to out- without any swooping. Once her hands pierce a voodoo doll from her toy chest, swirling magic enters the picture unleashing chaos. Camera movements and speed from this point forward are in constant movement without pauses to simulate chaos and the magic-fueled comeuppance to those who cast her out.

From the point voodoo is invoked, the aesthetic changes from artificial to realism. All props from this point forward like the books, paper planes, spitballs, pencils, and desks are realistic instead of plastic toys. Those who buddied up against her turn on each other and she introduces mayhem within these cliques and friend groups. In the cafeteria, she steers clear of the food fight and protects her lunch tray. She’s now the one who affords paid lunches while the other kids have lunch boxes since they have to bring their food from home. At the basketball game the girls fall to the ground bandaged up and hurt, unable to play and lose. The main character cheers with delight, unscathed and able to play. The dance hall is now a mess, the girls hunch over in pain and sickness from the main character spiking the punch. Punch spills on the tablecloth, cups fall over, and you realize the party is over and it’s time these girls pay the piper. 

It pulls back again to reveal all five scenes in dream bubbles and she’s sleeping with the stabbed voodoo doll. This means the consequences she envisions will happen in real life the next day. She’s rewritten her story and her life will change.

While making this piece 5 specific things needed to happen:

  1. To create surprise reveals which drive the story -to the dollhouse, the voodoo doll, each consequence, the dream bubbles, and sleeping in the bed- through the use of camera movement and placement.
  2. To make the first half’s aesthetic look like it’s being acted out through toys through the use of plastic.
  3. To make the second half’s aesthetic look like it’s happening in real life to the people alienating her through the use of realism.
  4. To ensure the artwork reads like a 3 act play distinctly marked by the voodoo doll, shown both in the act of being pierced and after it’s stabbed. 
  5. To ensure the main character’s cunning and ruthlessness is revealed slowly through the progressive pain she inflicts. First social pain, then financial, then ability, then bodily.

It was a challenge to tell this story in an easily understandable way within 30 seconds. Multiple storyboards were created to nail it down and over 200 elements were individually cut out, edited, and put together. There’s even an easter egg near the jacks of a tractricoid top totem which symbolically foreshadows the dream sequences. The amount of detail, meaning, and time spent on the piece was worth it and I’m very proud of this one.

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