Rosie O’Gorman is an interdisciplinary artist. She has exhibited in the U.S., Ireland, and Italy. She and her husband, Frank Abruzzese, are the founders of Cow House Studios in Wexford, Ireland. Rosie has a BA in Art and Design Education from Dublin’s National College of Art and Design, Dublin. On a Fulbright Scholarship, she completed her MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute.
I definitely make a space that feels domestic–like a home away from home. In the past, I’d see furniture on the side of the road and I’d just bring it into the studio, ridiculous looking things, partly because it was this sad dejected piece of furniture on the side of the road but also because I wanted to build a space. I’ve been in studios that were really uncomfortable. I didn’t work in them very much. Cold, not a lot of light, the way the partitions were divided, no feng shui thinking at all…just not a nice place to spend your time.
I’ve always collected things. It was a Eureka moment when I realized, ‘Oh! These things can be part of my work.’ Arranging something that’s been living on my shelf for three years can be just as important as making a painting. The way I live and work has become more integrated. Going to thrift stores, shopping and looking for creepy objects to live in my studio is research, I suppose.
My work is pretty nostalgic. It’s about the passing of time and trying to come to terms with that. Living and having a studio in a place that has so much personal history, maybe it’s brought a little more of that out. There’s so much of my family history here [in Wexford] that I can’t ignore it.
The residency [at Cow House Studios] is great because we show each other our art work. Seeing people work on a daily basis and being exposed to that, it reminds me of grad school. We try to keep those conversations open and honest. Sometimes when you leave that bubble setting of school, people stop being honest about your work. Similarly, with Frank, I have a partner that I can be really honest with and I respect his opinions. Although sometimes he’ll come in and see I’m working on something and I’ll want his opinion and he won’t give it to me because he’s afraid I might be influenced.
I don’t create a cocoon. There’s constantly people looking at my work. I don’t mind that. I’m not shy about people looking at something that’s halfway there, not there at all or in progress. I think that’s a good thing, to keep fresh eyes. My family, eyes that aren’t exposed to the art world, their reaction is instinctual and curious when they come into the studio. I like those reactions–like when children look at something and they don’t care about the consequence or they don’t have a reference.
–Rosie O’Gorman, as told to Studio Beat
Photos by Rachel MacFarlane
Visit Rosie’s website here.