Merle

Memories of Merle

By Olivia Suffern

Merle Rosen was my teacher and mentor. She taught me how to draw, helped me prepare my portfolio for college, and was a great friend and role model to me during a time in my life when I was awkward and lacked confidence.

I’m sure my memories of Merle, though incredibly special to me, are similar to many other stories of those lucky enough to have known her. However I feel that if I share them with some of her close friends, even if we’ve never met, that I will feel a little more at peace with her sudden loss.

I met Merle at her “Drawing from the Very Beginning” course at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. The class was technically intended for adults. I was only in high school, so I was hyper nervous on the first day. Merle sensed my anxiety quickly, and joked that the grown-ups in the room probably felt much farther out of their comfort zones that I did. This type of calming, down-to-earth energy was so typical of Merle.

I enjoyed her class and improved so rapidly under her instruction that I began taking weekly lessons each Thursday evening from Merle in her Dane Ave. studio. I delighted in selecting old animal bones, sock puppets and natural specimens from her ever growing collection of treasurers to use as props for still life compositions. She always offered advice, warmth, and a cup of tea to each of her students.

Arriving at Merle’s studio felt like entering a sacred dimension. She was my liaison to the art world, and her influence on my life is irreplaceable

I am overwhelmed with emotion and have cried a lot, but I would not categorize my feelings as grief; rather intense gratitude that I had the privilege of knowing and learning from Merle. I will miss her magical presence.

 

Merle Rosen May 6, 1949 – June 19, 2017

Katelyn_Blog

Looking Through

“Whether we are looking out at the world or looking inward at ourselves, we are always looking through the void within us, through the world, and through both light and darkness. This is a moment of uncertainty and possibility where we find ourselves alone, even if in reality everyone is still very close.”

For her solo exhibition Looking Through, Katelyn Wolary offered these words as a companion to her collection of portraits – both striking and bewitching. Capturing classmates with oil and wood panels, she offers us a glimpse of that moment. Her subjects are staring off at nothing, everything, present but only partially, alone yet connected to everyone else searching through the void.

Katelyn’s self-portrait for the exhibition? She’s looking through you. Not in a judgmental or apathetic way. It’s as if she knows something and is waiting for the right time to share. Perhaps she’s expecting you to have the answer. Either way, there is an air of gentle confidence, a sense that she’s comfortable in the moment if not content.

Already a painter and poet, Katelyn recently earned another telling title – Class of 2017 Valedictorian. Listening to her recount her time at the Art Academy, it is clear this honor celebrates more than her G.P.A.

Growing up in the comparatively small town of Wilmington, Ohio, Katelyn developed a disciplined focus and work ethic via her participation in athletics. But when one of her art teachers in high school saw her potential and encouraged her to connect with another artistically inclined student, Katelyn began directing that same attitude toward her artistic endeavors. Though her parents initially expressed the common concern about how she’d earn a living, they helped her dive into her new passion with vigor.

When her work in high school was recognized with an Ohio Youth Governor’s Art selection, she remembers Joe Fisher – then with AAC admissions – attending the ceremony. This kind of personal touch made a good first impression and continued to impress her once she’d decided to accept the AAC’s very generous scholarship.

“Paige Williams and Mark Thomas were my “Studio Art 1: CORE” instructors, which was the first studio experience I had as a freshman at AAC. Their instruction, support, and criticisms supported my desire to learn and work hard, and was one of my favorite classes throughout the last four years. I have so many good things to say about so many of my professors, it’s hard to know where to begin.”

Another one of those professors was Matt Hart. Katelyn credits his Aesthetics class for helping her consider and develop her own views and values. She also enjoyed letting both the athlete and artist run free in Matt and Paige’s Creative Running course.

Throughout her time at the Academy, Katelyn’s dedication and desire to stretch herself with opportunities within and beyond the AAC has translated into both a richer personal experience and public recognition such as the Helms Trust Scholarship.

“The personal connections and support within the AAC community, which extend far beyond the walls of the Art Academy building, have been one of the most rewarding experiences of attending AAC. For example, last spring, 21C Museum Manager and AAC alum, Michael Hurst, came around to the student studios to check out the work. Fortunately, he saved my business card and contacted me later in the fall for the opportunity to loan my work to 21C for their Elevated Art exhibit, which has been hanging for the last six months and features other local artists.”

Standing on the cusp of graduation, sharing yet another moment of uncertainty and possibility with her fellow graduates, Katelyn is very grateful for both her biological and AAC families. The support of both has played a big part in empowering a profoundly gifted, hardworking and humble artist.

An artist who is certain to make the most of her possibilities.