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Rebecca Stockert: "Monsters and Motherhood"
By Dan Swartz
Fort Wayne Reader
Fort Wayne's art scene includes a variety of characters, all interesting and complex in their own way. Many times our artists will fall in and out of a certain style of work, in and out of love with a core concept, and in and out of making art altogether. Rebecca Stockert, a youthful veteran, has been exhibiting her work in Fort Wayne galleries and creating objects full of meaning in one form or another for nearly a decade. Over that time she has transformed from the alterna-punk ceramicist student into a more established name within our arts scene, a mother, a curator, and an accomplished painter and printmaker. Rebecca Stockert is responsible for the increased support for local arts at the Firefly Coffee Shop, and is now a gallery assistant at Artlink. Through this journey her art has become more symbolic, psychological, and more conceptually entertaining.
The core of Stockert's work revolves around the creation and interaction of small, colorful, somewhat whimsical characters that she calls "Monsters." These monsters are meant to be "representations of elements or characteristics of people." By making such inviting and engaging characters, Stockert plays with the psychological aspects of creation itself as well as some of the light and dark aspects of ourselves. "We personify or reject these aspects or parts of the human psyche", Stockert mentions while quickly mentioning that this work is full of both the sense of the domestic as well as a strong sense of nostalgia, and that she is trying to work through these feelings in the work.
Stockert explains her current influences as being primarily the paint itself (she is now working in oils a great deal) and the act of painting in a more traditional style. Stockert explains, "My newest body of work is created primarily through oil painting, which I picked up after a ten year hiatus, and my new love of printmaking." She lists glazing, under-painting, layering of colors, and other old master techniques as being the impetus for the creation of new work, leaving the conceptual side of her characters to be worked out as the piece comes together. Already enthusiastic about where her work will go, Stockert also mentions her plans for forays into watercolor and assemblage in the Spring, the latter allowing her to create more complex still lifes to paint from, and then exhibit the two next to each other.
Included in this new body of work are many of Stockert's monsters, but also a few print studies, and her first attempts at figure painting since rediscovering her painterly skill. Of her monsters, there are many stand out examples of Stockert's artistic skill and creativity. "Grendel's Mother," a small screen print of a tiny, almost anime, creature reminiscent of Chewbacca in a paired down wooded environment, is a nod to the epic literature of Beowulf. In another print simply titled "Monster," Stockert explores both etching and chine collie while representing one of her collaged fabric characters, which play a central role in her oil paintings, which carries a likeness to a rabbit, an alien, and Native American Kachina dolls.
Stockert's visual vocabulary is equally as rich in her oil paintings like "Happy Family," a still life which includes patterned fabric, a muskrat skull, and two hairy, big-eyed monsters, one with large horns, the other petite with stitches around its face. Pieces like "Mystery Monster" and "Bobbie Monster" are presented almost like specimens, against beautifully patterned backgrounds. "Mystery Monster" somewhat defiant "as above, so below" pose belies its pink fleshy body, and the delicate green scarf around its neck. "Bobbie Monster", which is the same creature seen in "Monster" previously, is inhabiting a primary color patterned space which takes a turn for the creepy as a dark shadow is made by "Bobbie Monster" who is tied to twigs, and looks over the viewer's shoulders with large button eyes, almost in shock as to what is coming. The psycho-dramas taking place on the small picture planes are quite refreshing, and when paired with Stockert's developing painting skills become formidable.
Stockert's oil painting experiments also include "Ezra" and "Self Portrait", her explorations into figurative work, which depict herself and her son. Stockert describes "Self Portrait" as being about "Nature vs. Nurture", seemingly in both the parental and the artistic senses of the phrase, and "Ezra" as being a depiction of her son wearing a comical monster hat (his face being framed by the monsters mouth and its eyes on top of his head), turning her son into one of her creatures. These pieces also explore Stockert's relationship to nostalgia as both of the images include the figures sitting on a red chair, which Stockert explained was given to her by her grandmother, and frames both her and her son in the same way that every generation preceding the younger one encapsulates it in their material goods, ways of thinking, and views of the world. As a mother, artist, and third generation Feminist, Stockert sees this nostalgic connection as being very important and something worth exploring.
As Rebecca Stockert continues to grow and her work evolves to explain this nostalgia, her monsters, and her love for various media, she has consistently stayed relevant through an honest acceptance of herself as both creator and worker, mother and student. These personal notations come out in her characters, representations, and the dramas which she infuses into her images. Not quite a diary, not yet a piece of literature, and more engaging than either, Rebecca Stockert's work is certainly something to explore.
"Rebecca Stockert and Paul Demaree"
Firefly Coffee Shop
December 1st, 2011-January 1st, 2012