Amanda Rhodenizer isn’t afraid to try something different.
Her latest art collection is proof. Entitled “Attachment,” it will be displayed at Rotunda Gallery at Kitchener’s City Hall in August 2016.
“It’s definitely a departure from my previous work,” she said. “My last two shows were about landscapes, and this is about intimate relationships. Specifically, it’s about the tensions within intimate relationships. Presence and absence is a strong theme.”
For Rhodenizer, the desire to walk down an unexplored path with her work was inspired by a number of factors, especially her role as a new mother. The parent of a two-year-old boy, she encountered a range of feelings and experiences after his birth.
“I felt like I was in an intimate, isolated arena with my son,” said Rhodenizer. “It’s interesting seeing yourself as a parent, and seeing yourself in your child. There are a lot of roles we play, and each with different expectations.”
When people in the city experience “Attachment,” many will connect the visuals to relationships in their own lives. Rhodenizer is eager to see their reactions, and has experienced all kinds in the past.
She recalled one individual’s reaction that stood out at a past show, which featured a series of paintings, some looking like church basements.
“He was made very uncomfortable by a piece of my art,” she said. “He had strong anxiety – it reminded him of something. That piece of art made me uncomfortable as well. Without people around, church basements can look creepy.”
Throughout her colourful journey as an artist, the willingness to do something different has frequently motivated Rhodenizer.
Originally from rural Nova Scotia, she was raised in a creative family. Rhodenizer’s grandfather was a folk artist and boat builder. Her brother followed in his footsteps, and she honed her talent in high-school art classes and at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NASCAD).
Soon, Rhodenizer developed an interest in oil painting.
“The history of oil painting is so loaded,” she said. “It also seemed very exclusive – it was mostly men doing it. It looked a bit like a boys’ club and I wanted to get in there.”
When asked to describe who influenced her, Rhodenizer cited Eric Fischl who is famous for his raw, figurative paintings. She explained that she was attracted to the immediacy of his paint application, and found it made the art “charged” in an emotional way.
After completing her education at NASCAD, Rhodenizer traveled to Ontario and started a master’s in fine arts at the University of Waterloo. During her time as a grad student, the gifted Caroline Walker served as another influence.
Rhodenizer spent six weeks in London, England as a studio assistant for Walker, and enjoyed candid conversations with the Scottish artist.
“Caroline is continuing in Eric’s tradition, but exploring the female dynamic in domestic settings,” she said.
Now, as a full-fledged artist, Rhodenizer is excited about her projects and planning for the future.
Along with the opening of “Attachment,” this August will mark another milestone for Rhodenizer. Open Sesame, which is a design shop and arts venue located beside Kitchener City Hall, will publish a full-colour zine about her work entitled “Works on Paper.” It was inspired by Rhodenizer’s fall 2015 exhibition at the gallery.
“The truth of the matter is, I have to make art or I will go crazy! I have always thought art making helps us to better understand ourselves,” she said.
“I’d like to continue to explore the possibilities of painting in a contemporary context, and that the construction of these narratives encourages people to continue to explore their own histories and narratives.”