Katherine Steichen Rosing
Acrylic on Linen
As a native Wisconsinite — born in Appleton — our ever-changing forests and lakes are part of my soul. I feel a spiritual and philosophical connection to trees and forests. Walking through a forest, my senses are bombarded by lines (tree trunks) and dots (lichens) and the pulsing rhythms of the tree trunks as I move through space. This verdant visual assault is the preliminary inspiration for my work – but the longer I remain in a forest, the more deeply aware I become of phases of life and the interdependence of species within the forest community.
Lichen, moss, and algae populating the tree trunks are a sign of clean healthy air. Mother trees feed saplings— and trees communicate inter-species, sharing information and nutrients through a vast network below the soil passing through roots interwoven with mycorrhizal fungi. Stages of life are evident throughout the forest from massive grandmother trees to slender saplings, fallen broken trunks supporting mosses and numerous insects and animals before decaying into rich soil for future generations.
Increasingly I think about the significant role forests play in protecting our earth from the warming climate, reminding me of our responsibility in turn to protect our forests which are so vulnerable not only from human needs for more farmland and logging as we struggle to support growing
populations, but also to invasive insects, changing temperature and weather patterns. Recently I had a conversation with a scientist at the DNR who expressed the wish that we would cherish our trees like we cherish our pets, and take care of them, and keep them healthy.
Forests balance survival and competition for resources while facing environmental challenges – quietly remaining in the same communities for eons. There are many lessons here.
I am fascinated with surface and color. Using paint mixed with gel mediums I build relief surfaces and scumble numerous layers of color to enhance the play of light and color. Scale of the work changes the experience for the viewer and also how I can work with paint. Working on rigid panels allows the development of deeper relief textures. Paintings over seven wide immerse the viewer in a physical relationship prompting movement across the space as if in a real forest with heightened color. These large-scale works require lighter materials, so I work on unstretched canvas or linen to facilitate transport — the paintings include a painted border with grommets for temporary installations but allow for to be stretching if desired. In contrast, small works on paper invite the viewer to approach and more intimately engage.
I work in acrylic on linen, panel, and paper depending on size. Paint and mediums are scumbled in numerous layers. Depending upon size and support, relief surface is developed with gel mediums.