Clare Rojas' illustrations on the island

Clare Rojas' illustrations on the island

The Forge Building

The Forge building on New Holland island which is currently undergoing conservation works has recently been decorated by an American artist Clare Rojas. Claire Rojas’s geometric forms are images extended from her recent illustrated book ‘Everything is Flowers.’ In these works she has chosen to move away from her more staunchly feminist mythologies and into a more decorative, calming plane, the symbology of which she admits are ‘deeply personal.’ The tulip-like forms act to represent the garden – which she explains is metaphor for a place of safety as well as for growth and nurturing, ‘becoming an adult’ and ‘figuring out what to stand for.’ The faux-naïve, simple linearity of her style is greatly influenced by ‘the Super American Super Ohio’ quilts that she saw when she was younger.

Clare Rojas (born 1976 in Ohio, USA) is known for her paintings, which fuse with deep narrative and iconography, drawing on the symbolism of objects and people to produce work that makes telling observations on gender relations and the idea of representation. Rojas works using a wide range of media, including print-making and installation as well as painting. Her work in paint characteristically uses flat blocks of colour showing the origins of her style – she studied Printmaking at the Rhode Island school of design in 1998 and later moved to Chicago, where she completed a Master’s degree at the School of the Art Institute.

She is currently located in San Francisco, where she produces most of her work that draws heavily from American folk art and folk lore. Steeped in mysticism and channelling a feeling of the shamanistic about it; subjects include women, men and animals set into natural settings. Seemingly pushing the belief towards a connection of all things, the harmony and balance of nature, she also shows her characters ruminating on senses of nostalgia and loss. There is struggle in her characters, however you are always given the feeling that these characters will not back down and will fight back against their predators. You can almost imagine them being hung up to protect against evil spirits, the bright, jarring and clashing colours that Rojas forms into subjects she explains she uses to in order to make people feel safe.

On the unveiling of her piece Blue Deer (2009) at the San Francisco International Airport terminal the artist mused– “I travel a lot, and when I began the airport project, I began to think about what travelling means, and for some, its anxiety. I wanted to create a peaceful space that was calming and felt like going home. That is why I wanted the piece to be hung like a picture in a house, to feel safe.” The mythic conceit of her pieces use geometric shapes from traditional quilting techniques and confirm her style of north-western Native American art - complete with beavers. However, it has also been said to be reminiscent of Russian Primitivist art in the early 20th century. With its smart sense of humour and large scale, along with a story of an idyllic land where all creatures prevail over their struggles. 

Summer in New Holland is a temporary summer program on New Holland Island’s territory which covers various areas of modern culture. The program is the first step in a large-scale renovation project of New Holland Island, the purpose of which is the restoration of the architectural monument, as well as redefining its role in the life of the city. It is planned that by 2017 the island will be established as a multifunctional cultural, business and tourist center.