Today we’d like to introduce you to Ariane Roesch.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Ariane. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I feel like it’s never quite a linear path and there were a million choices and circumstances that shaped me to do what I’m doing: being an artist living in Houston, TX.
I went to the University of Houston to pursue a Bachelor in Fine Art. My mother has had an art gallery since I was seven years old and I think the continuous flow of artists coming to exhibit, discuss, and sell their art had a profound effect on me. They brought a kind of freedom with them, a freedom to engage differently with life, asking questions and not just marching forward in absolutes or adhering to the norms.
After graduating, I became more involved in the Houston art community. Developing my work, organizing exhibitions, meeting other artists, giving talks, and in general having a great time. Houston is one of the best places to be as an emerging artist: there are ample opportunities from renowned organizations plus a community of artists, collectors, and other arts professionals that is approachable, accessible, and supportive.
Although things were going well, I felt a bit stuck with the art I was making – I was in a rut. So, I decided to get my MFA at the California Institute of the Arts. It was a bit of a shock to defend my artwork, finding answers to why someone should care about it. What makes it important and why was I even making the things I was making? Pursuing a masters degree can be a tricky thing (especially considering the cost these days) but those two years helped me further my art practice and, more importantly, expanded who I am and what kind of life I wanted to live.
In the funny but beautiful way that life sometimes works, I landed right back in Houston. My husband Zak Miano, who I met two weeks before leaving for California, and my mom were a big draw to come back but I also started to miss and appreciate the unique concoction that makes up Houston. Although it is one of the most diverse cities in the country, the southern hospitality pervades. Plus, it is such an odd city with its no-zoning regulation, the intensity of flood events, and the thick humidity embracing you like a sweaty friend that it sometimes seems crazy to love living here!
But I have now put down my own roots. Zak and I built a house in 2016 from the ground up with the pier and beam foundation burrowing 13 feet down into the earth. Our half-an-acre lot is filled with trees, some which have forged their roots for decades standing strong and tall. Our dream to build was not easy and my latest project details our journey to homeownership. The memoir/how-to book “How to Build: a House, a Life, a Future” (http://www.atmenpress.com/portfolio/items/howtobuild/) weaves a practical how-to guide to building your own home in Houston into an enticing narrative. To make the venture financially feasible, we moved into a 20 ft. shipping container on our property without electricity, water, sewer, or even a fence. Over the course of two years, we managed or assisted in all aspects of the construction and built our new life, slowly regaining standard comforts such as running water and continuous electricity. The story ended up being a meditation on affordable housing, the student loan crisis, and what happens when a generation can’t afford to invest in their community.
The book is currently available to pre-order with the release happening in September – a reading + release party is scheduled for September 19 at Gallery Sonja Roesch.
Has it been a smooth road?
I don’t think it is ever a smooth road for anyone forging their own path. You have to be comfortable with and embrace a constant state of worry, fear, doubt, mixed with utter happiness and pride that you are in control of your life and the meaning it creates.
My advice to anyone starting out is to be resourceful in finding opportunities, learn to be disciplined with your work (even if you are not getting a paycheck, treat it like a job), and don’t be afraid to be persistent – never underestimate the power of a follow-up.
Just keep going… and enjoy what you’re doing!
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am a visual artist that is interested in how we situate ourselves within a mechanized society, specifically exploring ideas of comfort, risk, and how we define success. I don’t really have a “go-to medium” – the format depends on the concept, what I want to communicate, and the situation in which it is displayed or disseminated.
I’ve done room-sized installations using light wire as well as collages. I like working with fabric, either as a sculptural material or a surface to draw on. My recent exhibition “VIP” included a series titled “Deadliest Climbs” (http://arianeroesch.com/deadliest-climbs/) which are black chalk drawings on white felt of the 10 deadliest mountains to summit, an audio piece titled “Find Your Calling” that you listened to through a red phone (http://arianeroesch.com/find-your-calling/), and a big oval-shaped red carpet track on the floor titled “I am a very important person” (http://arianeroesch.com/i-am-a-very-important-person/).
My recent book project is a somewhat new direction but in a way, it addresses ideas that I’ve been continuously interested in: physical and psychological structures that make up our every day, self-help literature, and how we measure success. I also have an interest in distribution and thinking about the accessibility of art. Many of my projects involve making multiples and I see this book as yet another multiple with various available versions – limited edition, hardcover, paperback, and ebook.
Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
My family moved to Houston from Germany in 1996 (I was 11 years old) for my father’s job in the oil&gas industry. My mother had opened an art gallery five years prior which she has continued to this day (Gallery Sonja Roesch is located in Midtown – www.gallerysonjaroesch.com). After a few years of living in Houston, my father decided to leave his job and start a business importing picture frames from Germany. Growing up with two self-employed parents meant all hands on deck: stuffing envelopes for mailings, helping out during receptions, assisting with website development, etc. I think some parents try to shield their kids from the ins and outs of running a business but it was for me one of the best learning experiences – seeing the persistence, discipline, and constant innovation that is necessary to being your own boss (this is all in hindsight since at 16 nothing your parents want you to do is cool!).
Being an artist could be said is like running a business: you not only make stuff but you are also in charge of marketing, distribution, and selling. The good news is that YOU are in charge, and you can choose what kind of artist you want to be! Throughout my career, these early lessons on being self-employed have been key: you have to be flexible and disciplined, resourceful and persistent, always thinking one step ahead towards the next project.
- Book: How to Build (limited edition): $25
- Book: How to Build (hardcover): $20
- Book: How to Build (paperback): $10
- Book: How to Build (ebook): $5
- Website: www.arianeroesch.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/arianeroesch
- Facebook: facebook.com/arianeroesch
- Other: www.atmenpress.com
This interview appeared on August 13, 2019.