Priscilla Roggenkamp, bio and statement
Born in Bangor, Maine, Priscilla Roggenkamp also lived in Virginia and Arkansas
before coming to Alliance, Ohio, where she has been living,
teaching and creating art since 1990.
She received her Baccalaureate in Art from Heidelberg College,
and subsequently studied Art at Kent State University (MFA),
and The University of Arkansas (M.Ed.).
Previously working primarily in drawing and painting,
Priscilla began creating three-dimensional work in the mid 1990s.
“Keepers of the Faith”
Roggenkamp’s work, Keepers of the Faith, focuses on the human form as a vessel for carrying opinions and habits through life. She attempts to bring about a discussion of contradictory tendencies in human behavior, specifically focusing on religious extremism and superiority. In her own words, Roggenkamp states:
“The tops of these forms are fashioned after clothes pin bags, a utilitarian device that becomes dress-like and a stand in for the figure. “
Buckets are functional. They are containers to be filled and a means of transporting the practical ‘stuff’ needed for many of life’s tasks. My bucket forms are functional objects designed to reference the human form. Carrying and transporting the stuff of life, we are vessels. We carry things like our DNA and other aspects of our nature. We carry habits and temperaments, aspects that may be of our nurture. We carry hurts and slights that we hold on to, and joys and memories that we reflect upon. Our vessel-selves contain and store much as we traverse life.
In forming these works I choose processes that utilized a small substance, a thread or a wire, to create a large form. From fisherman’s nets to the finest silk, the idea of creating form from thread is vast and connects all cultures and peoples. As each form took shape through multiple stitches, knots and rows, another essential element important to my work is time. Time, care, a slowness of purpose, repetition and large doses of patience were ingredients of each form. For me, these processes also connect us humans to the vessel forms. We fill our containers slowly, over time, sometimes with careful regard, sometimes not. But whether purposefully or apathetically the vessel gets filled. In relationship to my artwork, the deliberateness with which these buckets forms are made causes me to reflect on the deliberateness with which I would like to live my life, aware of each stitch, paying attention to the details. May it be so.
I have always been aware that the accident of my birth in this time and place determined much about my life. Certainly my safety, beyond the general pitfalls of life, has not often been in question. I can look to the future and to the future of my children with a sense of confidence and surety (within reason). But in our world there are many who have been born into a time and place of strife and struggle beyond their choosing. What must that be like?
How do you leave all you know and move to a new land? Great stories from the all cultural histories and religions tell of the challenges and motivations that make it impossible to stay in one’s homeland and agonizing to go to a new land.
In most family histories there was a great trek, a mad scramble or a long slow voyage to this new land. Many of us have family trees with stories of those who have traveled from afar for a new life here in America.
Even more difficult is the lot of the refugee, those for whom leaving is not a happy choice. Fearing for one’s safety and for the safely and future of one’s family, refugees embark on difficult journeys. Some of their tales are harrowing; some do not end on safe shores but in extreme hardship and even in the loss of life.
What we carry through life has been a recurring subject in my artwork. These fabric buckets, made in the manner of ship’s canvas buckets (with a nod to Winslow Homer’s painting Fisher Girls) are figural vessels made to carry. They were created by the ocean, dyed indigo to match the color of the water and then sent on their own journey from the waves in Maine to the variable weather on my Ohio homestead. These objects can only give a nod to the types of brave journeys that refugees from all times and places undertake.