Grace Roselli is a Brooklyn, New York based artist. She has a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and was awarded the RISD scholarship to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Upon graduating with honors she was awarded a residency with the Empire State Studio program in New York City.
Roselli has had solo exhibitions with the Mar Silver Design Lab in Westport, Connecticut, the Anita Friedman Fine Arts Gallery in New York City, and with Pentimenti gallery in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in numerous group shows, including the 2013 exhibition 'Coup de Chapeau' at the Gemeente Museum in the Netherlands. Recently published by Jaded Ibis Press, "Is The Room" features Roselli's photographs alongside a collection of poems by Rosetta Jenning Ballew. In addition to her art work, Roselli co-curated one of the final shows at Franklin Furnace's gallery space, "Voyeur's Delight."
Covered by publications and blogs, Roselli's art has been featured in Artnet Magazine, The New York Times, Fine Art Magazine, Whitehot Magazine, Hyperallergic, Site 95, Art Journal (College Art Association), Gallery Beat, New Yorker, Metropolitan Home, At Home, Connecticut Cottages and Gardens, New England Home, Jaded Ibis Press,Village Voice, Time Out New York, The Village Voice, Lusitania Press, among others.
Everything female is contested: race, gender, and sexuality.
From riding a motorcycle for the past thirty years to using body paint as a means of engaging racial issues and gender norms, my recent work comes out of an art practice developed over decades, one in which I lived the subject without filter and that at times has extended my studio practice beyond it’s walls.
In the early 80’s I started to body-paint myself and friends black and white without being aware of the charged outcome. Rather than a conscious “strategy “ it was a natural expression of who I was. After painting white men black, black men white, white women black, and black women white- it became apparent that my work was questioning ideas of beauty, race, gender and who gets to talk about the what, how, why and when in America.
Being a biker is part of my practice. Motorcycles are associated with men, sexuality, rebellion, freedom and danger. My series Naked Bike addresses riding while female. The motorcycles portrayed cease to be mere moving vehicles but become an extension of female agency. In some pictures the women are covered in gear for the sport, but also can function here as armor, a mysterious shell, a hidden space. In others, that protective layer is gone. Naked, the women project what protects them, or not, as female.
In these and other series, I re-imagine and question the female archetype in contemporary culture.
Everything female is contested: race, gender and sexuality.
UNCANNY LADY M
With my series of large-scale photographs and paintings titled ‘The Uncanny Lady M’, I’ve combined a science fiction landscape with a revisionist narrative for the significant, exciting leading ladies who enter a storyline only to be become the main male character’s trophy, quietly ushered off stage when no longer needed.
Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, the leading lady of ‘Macbeth’, whose gender thwarts the ferocity of her ambitions, mouths ”Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here…” in Act I, Scene 5. By Act 5, she’s sleepwalking out of the story.
Lady Macbeth’s story was desperately ripe for revision, so I re-imagined her as a cyborg queen, a post-human machine without the constraints of morality, class, race or gender.
Pre-production involved sculpting face and body coverings, abstracted ‘crowns’ for Lady M’s queen takeover. Fashioned from skin pricking wire mesh, mylar and plastic tubing, all of which serve to enhance, obscure and, at times restrain the body in provocative ways.
For the initial photo shoot, I asked invited women to imagine themselves as the badass beauty wearing only the sculpted crown and to interact with a distorted image of themselves formulated via a sheet of reflective mylar.
Ultimately, the individual performer’s sense of identity merges with the physical parameters of the set. The actual woman and her misrepresentation become one.
Disquieting beauties of pain and pleasure, these women are fiercely themselves, becoming the elements in a non-verbal alphabet within the poetry of the re-imagined body.
IS THE ROOM
In 2013 I was asked by Debra DiBlasi of Jaded Ibis Press to make a visual interpretation of Rosetta Ballew Jenkin’ first published book of poems, “IS THE ROOM”.
In Rosetta's poem 'As if she were something opened', there is a sentence "she lines the walls with herself". The 'she' "Is The Room". The walls are the space between her unconscious mind and hard edge reality. Her perceived acts, relationships, her life's past, present and future are now projected onto the walls of this one dream room.
I am exploring that metaphor of 'the wall' or the space between the 'realness' of our subconscious and what can be the subjective fantasies of reality.
In giving visual form to this idea, I invited a group of friends to my studio for a portrait session--not of themselves, but a portrait/performance of the space surrounding them, the outline that defines their relationships to themselves, each other, and to myself as recorder.
My set is very simple--light,a white wall and some studio materials. Mylar for its 'distorted' images and glassine- a transparent drawing paper 'boundary' that can be punched, pummeled and ripped down.
Thus, the stage is set for what is turning out to be a series of very personal and surprising scenarios.