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FOLLOW THIS: Stephanie Rond

By 5th grade, Stephanie Rond already knew what she wanted to be. So picking a topic for her Career Report should have been easy. But when the 10-year-old Rond told her teacher that she wanted to be a visual artist, she was informed that art is not a career, it’s a hobby. Rond promptly switched her aspirations. She said she wanted to be a doctor—for exactly two weeks. After she finished her report, she went right back to her dream of being an artist.

 

Today Rond is a visual artist and, as she shared from the TEDxColumbus stage, she is also a doctor. “All creatives are doctors,” she said, “We are the doctors of your hearts. We’re the ones who show it is okay to feel vulnerable and that we must ask hard questions and look for answers, and so we get up every day and we dance, we sing, we write, we paint, so that none of us have to ever feel alone.”

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Rond is a street artist.

She also owns the S. Dot Gallery inside a dollhouse (and open 24/7). Though on the surface these two pursuits could not seem more different, they are concerned with the same questions of accessibility, environment and gender. Her work is also the subject of a short documentary directed by Andrew Ina, Tiny Out Loud, and Rond shared the trailer from the film in her 2015 talk. Now that it’s run the film festival circuit, picking up numerous awards along the way, Tiny Out Loud is available on Vimeo.

I showed it in my living room. Just 12 minutes long, I snuck it into family movie night. Selling it to my tween daughter as a “short,” just like in the theater. In Tiny Out Loud, you’ll see a clever stage set, a perfectly placed tiny teacup, and a dollhouse in Central Park. But whatever I might have to say about what happened on the screen, what happened in my living room says much more. My nearly teenage daughter, who I have not seenvoluntarily mono-task in about a year, not only looked up from her phone, she put her phone down. She remained engrossed (in a documentary!) until the end, at which point she clapped, spontaneously.

 

Rond says that one reason she makes her art where and how she does is so that “women and girls could see we are viable and active citizens in our community.” Was my daughter picking up on that? Maybe, but I know just enough about tween parenting not to ask.

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“It’s important that people know that women are working in this very male-dominated art form.”

In Tiny Out Loud, we hear from a number of Columbus locals, but not from Rond herself. This is intentional, says Rond. It’s a nod of sorts to the many street artists who remain anonymous. Banksy is an example. But Rond is purposeful about revealing her identity. “It’s important,” she says, “that people know that women are working in this very male-dominated art form.”

 

The outside works she calls “interventions.” It’s a way to skirt the labeling—i.e., graffiti, mural, public art—that can define, legitimize and delegitimize. But also, it’s an accurate description of how she hopes her art functions, intervening in everyday experience and expectation of our outdoor environments. And this is why, though she has a number of works around town, I can’t tell you where. Well, she did give up a few locations—Broad and Oakley in the hilltop, Pattycake Bakery and The International High School, both in Clintonville—but the rest are secrets, ready to be discovered.

 

 

You can also find Rond’s work in traditional gallery spaces. Common Cosmology, which also features artist April Sunami is at the Vanderelli Room in Franklinton until May 29th. Rond is curating an exhibition at the Cultural Arts Center called Dare to be Heard, which opens in September and is part of a larger program focusing on the absence of women in the upper echelons of art. And Rond is part of the organizing team for the inaugural Columbus Studio and Stage, an open studio tour scheduled for the weekend of October 8th & 9th.

 

Writing this post gave me the opportunity to ask my daughter, casually and indifferently, what it was she liked about watching Tiny Out Loud. Lest you—or I—think it was the toy tie-in, the dollhouse gallery she said was “cool,” but that “you can make art and put it on the wall like that. You can just do that. That was really cool.”

 

Kendra Hovey is the editor of the TEDxColumbus blog. Follow Kendra on Twitter @KendraHovey and Medium.  

All images of Stephanie Rond’s artwork care of stephanierond.com  

Tiny Out Loud: