Material World of the Artist

Material World of the Artist

I can meditate looking at Rose Marie Prins’ Art! If you’ve ever seen it, you would agree, it captivates you immediately. The depth, texture, colors and (the most important part), the story behind each piece grabs you.

Rose Marie is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including residency fellowships at the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts in Louisville, Kentucky; the Hambridge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences in Raybun Gap, Georgia, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work is in public, corporate and private collections in the United States, Canada and Europe.

NV: Do you remember the first time you thought about becoming an artist? What or who inspired you?

I can barely remember a time when I wasn’t an artist—from first grade on I was the “artist” in the class. My father was an artist; he recognized I had talent and encouraged me from an early age. I was fortunate in that way—in elementary school and into high school, I attended after-school art classes. At sixteen, I left high school and attended an art school in Johannesburg, where I earned my high school diploma.

NV: How did living in South Africa, experiencing the local traditions and culture, affect your art?

I find myself reluctant to dwell on my life in South Africa. I left when I was in my late twenties and I never returned. It’s a beautiful country, but my experience of it was tarnished by apartheid. Racial tension was inescapable. I was even more conscious of this after I returned to South Africa, having lived in London for a time when I was twenty and twenty-one. In contrast to the freedom I experienced in London, South Africa was oppressive. I vowed that when I left again, it would be for good. Of course, I did take with me many of those early influences when I finally left. I see the influence of Africa and African art in my art, especially the earlier work.

I’m excited now about my planned trip to India, in December. I was introduced to hatha yoga while in South Africa and, at an early age, I became fascinated by the colorful figures with numerous arms I saw in the Hindu Temple near my childhood home.

There is a vibrant East Indian culture in South Africa (Gandhi was politicized there). So I feel in some ways that this trip will be a homecoming, although I’ve never been to India. I recently received an Individual Artist’s Grant from Creative Pinellas which is helping to fund the trip, and my residency at the Sanskriti Foundation, an artists’ retreat in New Delhi. I’m very grateful for this opportunity.

NV: The painting in your living room that can be hung to display either side, what is the story behind that one?

I consider “Eros’ Wound” to be my first mature painting. My BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute was in painting; but for years I did sculpture and some performance art, which was influenced by my time studying at the Woman’s Building in L.A. with, among others, Suzanne Lacy. While living in rural New Mexico, I returned to painting and found I loved the sensuality of paint—simply moving paint over the surface of the canvas. I still do.

“Eros’ Wound” was the first piece I made in which I incorporated soil—I left the painting outside during the winter and Mother Nature helped create a marvelously cracked and pock-marked surface, spiced with the terra cotta color of New Mexico’s soil.

NV: Your art is fascinating and requires time to process. I can get lost staring at your paintings, admiring the depth in colors and texture. What symbols or visual expression (techniques) do you use to make a statement or achieve a certain affect?

I often claim that, like Madonna, I’m a “material girl.” Like an alchemist, I get a kick out of exploring materials and discovering how they interact, physically and aesthetically. Process Painting, for instance that of Jackson Pollock, was an important influence on my early work. Painting with a preconceived image in mind has never interested me—I love the journey, the process of discovery. Achieving a certain affect is never a goal; I want to be surprised by what appears on the canvas—as if by magic!

Terra Firma with Blue, Sand from Georgia, Acrylic on Canvas, 61″ x 49″

NV: You are a strong advocate for women’s rights. How do you express it through your art?

I’m a feminist and have been for many years. I think I express this in many ways, but not necessarily through my art, which is nonrepresentational. Sometimes the titles of my work, both series, such as Aphrodite’s Realm and individual pieces, such as Voodoo Priestess and Shakti, hint at my involvement with feminism, as well as my interest in mythology and Eastern mysticism.

NV: Who is the artist you admire most? Why?

When I was a student at the San Francisco Art Institute, I saw an exhibition of the work of Eva Hesse. I was blown away—I had never seen anything like it! I was intrigued by Hesse’s use of unconventional materials and by her eccentric, evocative forms. The only time prior to that experience that I remember having a similar reaction was seeing Michelangelo’s David in Florence, when I was twenty-one and hitch-hiking around Europe with a couple of friends.

NV: When you buy a piece of art or décor for yourself, what is important for you?

I admit I rarely buy art. Being an artist AND a single mother didn’t allow that option. Now, I’m the owner of an old house with all the expenses that that entails. However, I have traded art on several occasions. Some of my favorite pieces are by my friend, Jordon Meinster, who passed away a few years ago, and another dear friend, sadly now suffering from dementia, Miriam Beerman. I also own a print by a trans-culturalist and feminist pioneer, Suzanne Benton.

As for decor, I look for clean, simple lines and subtle colors.

NV: You are not only a talented artist, but also a successful art teacher. What would be three (3) words of encouragement or motivation you would use for people who love to create?

Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love did a great TED talk on creativity. I recommend that anyone who loves to create watch it. Essentially she says:

  • Show up.
  • Just do it, and then keep doing it.
  • Don’t give up. It’s a difficult road, but a worthwhile one. Besides, if you are a truly creative person, you have no choice but to keep doing it.

I love teaching and I love making art, and I’ll show up for both as long as I’m able.