Stephanie Rozene's research and art making focuses on the exploration of personal relationships through use, and the role that pottery form plays in communicating meaning. She makes work in the form of the utilitarian pot but is inspired by, and grounded in conceptual, historical and theoretical approaches to ornament, form, use, and making. Through the medium of ceramics (and with special attention to specific patterns, ornaments, and forms) she explores the politics of European and American dinnerware and traces international developments in this medium from Presidential china back to the reigns of French kings Louis XV and Louis XVI. By extrapolating patterns, Rozene creates her own visual language that speaks not only to national/international identities, but also to the extravagances to which government employs in order to maintain its identity. Rozene states, "through collaboration with other artists in various media we have been creating dialogues between culture, use, spending, consumerism, conflict, and excess through pattern."
Rozene’s current body of work continues her investigation into tableware and American politics. In particular, she focuses on how European tableware was used as currency during the second half of the 18th century by French Kings and Queens who wished to demonstrate their wealth and power to other developed nations. Through the use of pattern, gold luster and imagery an ornamental language emerges which is not bound to time and place but reflects the interaction and transformation of cultures through migration, trade, conquest and spread of religions.
This is evidenced in several of the most extravagant sets of tableware created for Louis the XV and XVI and their various homes at Versailles, Louvre, and personal apartments in Paris. Additionally they had services of over 2,000 pieces delivered to the Empress of Austria, King Frederick V and Christian the III of Denmark as ways to disseminate objects of wealth and power across Europe and the East, seal marriage proposals and avoid war by gaining allies. This work builds off of Rozene’s previous installations 270: The Corrosive Use of Money in Politics (2012) a portion of which will be on display as a part of this exhibition and The Politics of Porcelain, (2011) which used porcelain tableware, and a border of porcelain forms recalling rococo plasterwork to create place settings. When hung on the wall they created three vertical tables. This act of hanging the china elevated its importance and status to that of a painting. The work sought to begin a conversation about the importance of china and its ability to hold immense power.
Held Hostage: The corrosive use of money in politics continues the investigation of French influences on American china and politics. Here, Rozene uses patterns, ornament, and form from the Louis XVI china service (1783-93) and the Catherine the Great china service (1783) made by the Sevres National Ceramic Manufactory, Paris, France, both of which are widely acknowledged in the field as the most extravagant services created by the manufactory, to communicate meaning and create a discussion that reflects on our own contemporary language and political sphere. By taking patterns and forms from two different china services Rozene alludes to the two main political parties in the US, their relationship to money, power, and role in last fall’s presidential election (270 electoral votes are needed to elect a president), the increase of congresses wealth from insider trading deals, and the glaring disparity between the wealthiest and poorest in our economy. Responding to an increasingly divided congress, which has resulted in the recent US government shutdown, the work seeks to communicate the ways in which politicians use rhetoric and policy making as reasons to side with their party over the good of the country, even when those decisions hurt the most poor and needy individuals. She illustrates these ideas by using lavish gold luster and slip patterning, images of the Great Seal of the United States, and references the color of the original French china, directly tying our current economy to similarities with pre-revolutionary France.
Held Hostage: The Politics of Hunger in America, Rozene’s most recent body of work continues her use of patterns from the lavish Louis XVI Service from Sevres but removes color, replacing it with a white on white pallet, decals and carvings, in place of gold luster to ground the work and remind the viewer of the austerity that America’s poor experiences daily. The subtle pattern and stronger decal images act as the reminder that although, the United State may be one of the most wealthy countries in the world it ranks last among first world nations when considering the 50 million people who live in poverty and struggle with hunger on a daily basis with little to no government assistance. This work seeks to continue the conversation of how American politicians are no longer working for the people but themselves and attempting to use rhetoric to cover up the need of the American people.
Through symbolism and history Rozene raises the question of money’s corrosive use in politics and how it affects the American people.
This body of work supported by the Winifried D. Wandersee Scholar in Residence at Hartwick College, The Milne Family Fund and the Hartwick College Faculty Research Grant program. This project could not have been possible without the assistance of Hartwick College students Alexandra Forst ‘13, Elliot Henry ‘13 and Erica Cantwell ’14
HELD HOSTAGE: THE CORROSIVE USE OF MONEY IN POLITICS