Rebecca “Rose” Michelle Downin (born 18, September, 1980) is an award-winning American sculptor.

Born Rebecca Downin, Rebecca "Rose" is a moniker used as a tribute to her deceased mother, Michelle, who tended to roses in her hometown of Mesa, AZ.

She began sculpting at age 19 and created her first Sculpturing in 1999.[2] She sketches, assembles, carves, invests, kiln fires, and casts her own work in her home studio (Art Attacks), but sometimes, as is common with many jewelry artists, Rose employs assistants in New York and Los Angeles for fabrication purposes, for example investing the wax, firing in the kiln, and casting the piece in sterling silver or bronze.[2] She attended college under a full tuition art scholarship and received a BFA in 2001 from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. Rose currently lives and works between Los Angeles, CA and Orlando, Florida .

Early life

Rebecca Rose was born in Mesa, Arizona of American parents and her heritage can be traced to the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her unusual behavior and art was often misunderstood by her family.[2] Rose's family suffered a severe decline in their stability as a unit, circumstances which have been featured in the 30’ x 15’ 8’ installation "The Unabridged Paper Doll Diner" (2001), which was the catalyst for her parents' near divorce. It was the “first time [she] seriously realized [her] art was powerful.” In 1998 at age 17, Rose studied printmaking, metal smithing, and fine arts at Northern Arizona University ("NAU"), which she has described as one of the best experiences of her life. When she attended NAU, her professor at the time handed her a block of wax and gave one direction: make a ring. Without any more guidelines or restrictions, Rebecca envisioned that a ring “could be any size, any shape, and have any statement”.[3] It was at NAU that she saw the similarities between sculpture created in the foundry and cast jewelry and saw the only difference between the two being that one of the forms is heavier and more apt to be immobile and decorative, while the other form is smaller and more apt to be mobile and functional. She received a full scholarship to complete her Bachelor of Fine Arts at NAU, and she served as student supervisor for the NAU Jewelry/Metalsmithing Department, Arizona for two consecutive terms from 1999-2001.

Charity Work

Rose is also known for her charity work and frequently donates original artworks for charity auctions, raising money to benefit HIV/AIDS charities, LGBT causes, breast cancer awareness, and children’s charities. Rose has often appeared in person on the charity night to help increase the highest bid.

Political Views

She asserts that most of her work is influenced by political and current social events, with the works’ messages acting as "a narrative or allegorical observation".[2] Rose’s piece “Puppeteering” (2012) depicts her views on the Occupy Movements from 2011.[2] The three figures, ranging in age and gender, represent the majority view throughout the summer and fall of 2011. They band together, pointing the finger of blame, responsibility, and caution to the government’s “puppeteering” of the future. Government is represented by the soldier who rides the back of a big baby, representing our future which, at times, can seem like a big bumbling baby that needs to be led around. The pitchfork and hand trap the baby to symbolize the fine line between the evil actions of politics and the hasty actions of the public.[2] The piece was included in “The Master Blasters of Sculpture IV” show held annually at the Hive Gallery and Studios in Los Angeles, CA.[4] The piece “Inspiring” (2011) is draws on the graffiti/street art movement. The three spray paint nozzles mingled with the three brushes signify the birth of the [street art] movement. Banksy is represented by the rat, Mr. Brainwash is represented by the brain, and Shepard Fairey is represented by the fairy wings on top of the spray can.[3] A skateboard and ribbons on the side of the band signify their victory in making the genre bona fide in the fine art world.[3]

Controversy

Her piece “Triggering” (2009) was included in “A Call to Arms: The Newtown Project”, held at Charles Krause Reporting/Fine Art Gallery in Washington DC, on Inauguration Day January 21, 2013.[5] The show drew much critical and controversial attention as a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, CT.[6] The piece “Featuring” (2011) depicts a pornographic sex act performed on top of the ring. The piece derived inspiration from the 1970s when the porn industry polarized the feminist movement. The piece was shown displayed in a wall hanging with the original sketch at The Falcon in Orlando, FL in February 2013.

Found objects

Rose has often made use of found objects in her work, and creates each detailed ring out of a myriad of random items and toys from the large collection of found objects accumulated in her studio before she begins creating a cast out of wax.[7]

Installations and Large Sculpture

In 2001, for her thesis at Northern Arizona University, she built an interactive, life-size, 30’ x 15’ x 8’ installation called "The Unabridged Paper Doll Diner" (2001) and after creating large, space-eating sculptures, she realized she had to go that large to go so small with her rings.

Sculpturing

Much critical and popular acclaim has been garnered for Rose’s sculptured jewelry known as Sculpturings. They have been described as “tiny detailed sculptures that fit on your finger”, Her collections of small sculptures represent current world events or social issues in a miniature artistic sculpture bound to a finger ring. Each piece interweaves a message or concept associated with the word or suffix “ring,” and are named to describe the piece in question. Her work is cast in precious metals of gold, silver and bronze derived from the lost wax casting process. Each ring is displayed in a hand blown glass cloche dome and is elevated by an engraved base and armature to appear as if the ring is floating in mid-air. A magnifying glass accompanies each piece, allowing viewers to experience minute details and to create an intimate moment with the viewer and the piece. She utilizes precious metals and found and burnable objects to create what she calls “functional mobile sculpture”, generally in the form of wearable art or art jewelry. She sculpts on a small scale, so the viewer can wear and take the sculpture with them.[3] Rose’s official definition of the Sculpturings series is: “an artistic collection of small sculpture on a mobile scale for fingers, with the intent to combine current social issues artistically represented in a physical sculptural form with language that contains the word or suffix “ring” precious metals of gold, silver and bronze derived from the wax casting process. The series is best known under her registered trademark Sculpturings, officially registered in 2012.[8]

Awards

In 2011, Rose was one of four finalists selected for a nationwide art competition by Renee Vara of Vara Fine Art NYC. She has since exhibited her work in the National Juried Group Show at the Phoenix Gallery in the Chelsea District of New York City.[9] In 2013, she was selected for the Society of North American Goldsmiths and Crafthaus Scholarship where she instructed fellow artists on how to “Show Publicly & Build a Legacy Privately”. In December 2012, her work was selected for Cream, an exhibit held at Mother Falcon Gallery showcasing “the cream of the crop, La creme de la creme, the cream of the cream, the best of the best, the best of Orlando artists.”[10] Rose’s work has been commissioned and privately owned throughout the United States, Canada, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, and England. Bronze and Sterling Silver Sculpturings are also in the collections of The Andy Warhol Museum[11] and Andrew Lincoln, an actor from the AMC television series, The Walking Dead. Her Sculpturings have shown extensively throughout Los Angeles, and at Julie’s Artisan Gallery on Madison Avenue in New York.[11]

Collecting

Rose is an avid collector of art, with her collection containing works from artists Shepard Fairey and Audrey Kawasaki.[7] She states that being an art collector influences her approach towards her own art, and prompts her to include documentation with each piece so the provenance of her own art is “a cinch”. She regularly attends VIP art openings and vernissages to major art events and fairs, such as the The LA Art Show and Art Basel Miami Beach.[12]

Influences

Rose repeatedly credits Sam Wagstaff as an inspiration for her silver work. She takes note of the advances he made bringing photography into the limelight as an art form and was greatly influenced by his plans to do the same with silver sculpture.[13] but AIDS took his life before he could see it manifest. In the documentary, “Black White + Grey,” Sam Wagstaff had amassed a considerably large collection of sterling silver sculpture,[14] from which Rose was inspired to make his dream a reality. Andy Warhol is another often-cited influence, as he was a collector of unique silver, specifically silver jewelry. His quote, “It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a big ring”, is quoted on Rose’s official website. The quote is truncated from the original quote taken from the documentary Superstar- The Life and Times of Andy Warhol, which states, “It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a big ring on Elizabeth Taylor’s finger”.

Rose often relates the movie Johnny Tremain (Film), which she watched in her youth, as another major influence in her life. In a 2012 interview in “Nothing to Nobody Magazine”, she describes the similarities between her and the fictional character who is “boldly confident, clashes with religion, often misunderstood, fights against injustice, and stands for the freedom of man and basic human rights at the start of the Revolutionary War. Johnny Tremain is a Silversmith apprentice who, while casting a cup handle carved from wax, scalds his hand on molten silver. The image of the bright red liquid metal and his scarred, disfigured hand burned into my brain and popped up in my subconscious at random times growing up...”

Face Painting

Rose is also known for her body and face paintings. Her face paintings have appeared in numerous film and print material from The Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilm.[15]

References

  1. “The Iconic Portraits of Rebecca Rose” (April 2011). Page 28. What’s Happening
  2. (May 21, 2012). Studio Spoken Blog.
  3. (October–December 2012). Nothing to Nobody.
  4. “Orlando LIVE – Third Thursday at the City Arts Factory – December 2012 (December 31, 2012). Orlando LIVE.
  5. Rebecca Rose Official Website.
  6. Caban, Erik (September 1–14, 2011). “Rebecca Rose: Woolgathering Warhol.” Page 55. Watermark Magazine
  7. “Exhibit - Newtown Project / Call to Arms Show”. Charles Krause Reporting Gallery.
  8. Jenkins, Mark (January 24, 2013). “Artists Contribute to ‘Newton Project: A Call to Arms!’” The Washington Post.
  9. The Porn Art Show Documentary.
  10. Konahrtist (March 8, 2013). “Rebecca Rose”. Empty Kingdom: A Home for Media Artists.
  11. Girata, Nicole (April/May 2011). “Rebecca Rose: Drops of Art.” Page 5. Brink Magazine.
  12. (March 27, 2012). United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  13. (July 22, 2011). “What Is a Sculpture Ring?” Twelve 21 Gallery Blog ()
  14. Urban Coco Magazine, Laura Bartlett, July 2013, Leeds, UK.
  15. “Mother Falcon: Art Show CREAM Presents the Best of Orlando’s Best” (December 17, 2012). Orlando Cabaret Festival Blog.
  16. Good Day LA.
  17. Olkie, Cynthia N.; Paige Petrone (January 23, 2013). “LA Art Show Opening Night”
  18. Hopkins, Ellen (July 11, 1988). “Silver Rush: The Bitter Battle for a Collector’s Trove”. Page 30. New York. 3FD9afs&sig=_uqhAsPyioYv5R5FdoSLoORJ0LM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=7_52Ub7QNoT49gSs8IGYBg&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=sam%20wagstaff%20s terling%20silver%20collection&f=false
  19. Crump, James (2007). Black White + Grey: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe.
  20. (April–June 2002). Cover. Face Painting International Magazine.
  21. “Maul-icious Posters” (January 20, 2012). Star Wars Blog.

Official Website