DELVE Interview: Jason Rondinelli

We've had the pleasure of working with artist Jason Rondinelli several times over the last two years as part of our DELVE Toolkit. He's had a busy summer attending a couple of residencies, and we wanted to catch up with him and see what he's up to. He answered some questions for us here.

Jason Rondinelli at work marbling paper for his sculptures.

Jason Rondinelli at work marbling paper for his sculptures.

Can you briefly describe your path as an artist and how you came to seek out the DELVE Toolkit? 

Early on in art school, I learned it was important for me to make art that was personally fulfilling as well as of service to my community. For me, choosing to teach art to children in addition to my own practice was a way to fulfill both of those desires. I began teaching at a public middle school in Brooklyn and quickly learned how hard it was to be a good teacher. It took me nearly a decade to become an effective teacher, all the while neglecting my own art practice.  I reached a point in my life when teaching children was not enough and I needed to begin making art that pursues my curiosities.  I started painting again and found much of the naturalist subject matter that interested me surfacing in my work. I also began rediscovering materials and processes that excited me, like marbling and sculpting paper.  While reconnecting with my work, I came to a point where I was in desperate need to participate in contemporary art dialogues with other artists. Most of my friends are teachers or social workers, and although they are supportive, they don’t have the language or interest to engage in the discussion that I needed. I thought of applying to graduate school but my work wasn’t strong enough at the time to make for a convincing application. I needed another form of support, and when I came across Kind Aesthetic’s Toolkit it was the perfect fit. Kind Aesthetic’s impact on my practice has been two fold, they’ve helped strengthen the content and execution of my work as well as provided insight on how to present my work professionally. 

Can you share what you've learned about your practice and how Kind Aesthetic has helped you?

New work created while on residency at the Vermont Studio Center.

New work created while on residency at the Vermont Studio Center.

Over the past year, I’ve learned a great deal about my practice and Kind Aesthetic has been really instrumental in that process. Last year I came to Andrea Wenglowskyj and Sara Jones with some undergraduate training and some impulses, but I lacked a sense of direction and confidence regarding my work. At the time I was desperately trying to make “good art” and my over-controlling nature limited the conceptual and material strength of the work.  Sara and Andrea began by encouraging me to experiment more with materials and to push my self-imposed boundaries.  I’ve now learned experimentation is an essential part of my overall process that often spurs me in trajectories that produce richer work.

After spending a few months with Kind Aesthetic receiving really helpful feedback, we worked on presenting my work in a professional manner. I needed to update myself on how things worked now,  since I graduated from Pratt in 2002 during a time when physical slides were necessary and online opportunity listings didn’t exist. I learned how to write a clear artist statement, make a website and prepare these items for the plethora of application formats required by galleries and residencies. So far things have really paid off, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in some group shows and recently I attended a residency at the Vermont Studio Center.

Can you describe a day, or week, in your art/professional life?

Like many artists, I’m constantly juggling my artist career with a day job and family. Right now my time is very limited because I have a two year old daughter and a partner pursuing a nursing degree in the evenings. To manage my time efficiently, I reserve my lunch hour at work for all text based work like updating my artist statement or applying to open calls. During the evenings I work in my studio, which is currently a room in my apartment so that I can be close to my daughter. I also make sure to attend two artist events per month, which could be an opening, a DELVE networking event or an artist talk series like The Bushwick Art Crit Group. One aspect of my career I have yet to work into my schedule is developing better self promotion, like posting images of my work on social media. Finding a schedule that works for me has been a real building process; I add a new layer into my life once I have found a way to make all the others work together.

What is your favorite project that you've worked on (and/or are currently excited about/looking forward to working on)?

I’m now working on a project with two wonderful artists I met last year at the DELVE Collectives + Art networking event, Luis Martin and Samantha Robinson. We’ve kept in contact over the last year and recently Martin, Chief Curator of Parenthesis Art Space, has asked Samantha and me to create a collaborative installation for the space, located in Brooklyn Brush Studios in Bushwick. I’m really looking forward to collaborating with Samantha because we have similar conceptual and aesthetic interests.  The project is in it’s early stages but as of now, we plan to construct two sided translucent paintings that reference the open yet closed nature of parenthesis punctuation mark and the actual Parenthesis Art Space.  Samantha works with wood and fabric and will be constructing the irregular shaped frames and I will construct the paintings’ interiors out of translucent paper. The work will be installed in early January 2015, and more information about the project, including the date of the opening, will be posted at parenthesisspace.com, later this month.

And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

I love to jog along the Verrazano Promenade near my house at night. There’s something energizing that occurs when my endorphins are heightened and I’m jogging between the bustling highway and a body of water. It seems to really represent where my mind is at, shifting somewhere between the the human made and organic, conscious and unconscious, and it’s from this place I like to make my work.

 

 

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