Rochelle is a new friend, I met her through the volunteer work I do for the civic health club, Warm Cookies of the Revolution (WCoR). She was a guest speaker for the WCoR Read It Or Not bookclub that I facilitate at the Denver Public Library; the theme of the month was “home” and Rochelle talked about a selection of her paintings that are inspired by Denver. I recently visited her studio in Five Points and got to view more of her work; I like how her paintings draw me in, I feel like I could strike up a conversation with any number of her subjects. Rochelle was gracious and agreed to an interview. I appreciate her opening her heart to answer the questions.
When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
Although I used to draw as a teenager, I realized that I wanted to be a creative in some form at the age of 21 after going to a university in the South for computer science I enrolled in an art class to free my mind from the math I was taking.
Why do you paint?
I paint to be closer to God. This may sound unconventional, but when I’m truly in the zone I work out all my problems along with the challenge of the painting and I feel that it is a praise to God.
What’s most challenging about being an artist?
Being an artist or let’s say a painter like I am you spend a lot of time in the studio alone working through the challenges of the work as well as the business part of art. I can truly say the business side is the most challenging for me. I’m mostly an introvert. I’m learning to deal with people which challenges me to get out of my comfort zone.
What’s most fulfilling about being an artist?
I believe the most fulfilling thing about being an artist is when someone gets a painting that I have produced and they relate to it the way in which I intended or they attach their own meaning to it that makes them find something new in it each time they view it.
What artists do you admire?
WOW! There are so many. Each painting I do makes me look at different artists in a new way. In my younger years, I sought out black artists to study like Jacob Lawrence and Lois Malou Jones. In art school I was interested in the impressionist artist with Van Gough being one of the pre-impressionists who I fell in love with—I wanted to recreate the emotion that was so present in his work. Today, I admire a lot of the contemporary artists in different ways. I love the fact that everyone has their own voice and relate to their experiences in the work.
What’s your plan to survive and thrive as a woman of color artist in the Trump Administration?
My plan is push my view, so that people know woman of color artists matter and are still creating and thriving. I’m one who believes that inclusivity is so important. We can’t survive without one another and if America would look deep they would see that we all have a role that is essential to our growth.
Are there art/culture venues in Denver that people can support, that are run by POC?
Unfortunately, no and I would love to change that. I would love to open a gallery that would feature artists of different ethnicities, however I’m running up short on the financial end. Denver has gotten so expensive and artists are being pushed out. Right now, I’m selling out of my studio which is in my home and have been thinking of opening up the space to fit that concept.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Go work out. I find that getting my head in a space to work on my art must be clear and ready to receive my muse.
What’s the last thing you do before going to sleep?
Sometimes I’m so exhausted that I have a hard time clearing my head, but I try to do that as much as possible by turning off the TV, music, etc. and just be.
Do you consider yourself spiritual? If so, what do you do to encourage your own spiritual growth?
I consider myself very spiritual. I grew up in a black Baptist church where my grandfather was the minister. He taught me that love was the key and everybody has a perspective. On my journey, I have learned to respect each point of view and I study all the religions. I just finished reading Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss, MD. This book talks about reincarnation and I loved its message. In this book love reigns, supreme.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to living?
Learn all you can, so that you grow.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to dying?
I have always believed that we come back and once you learned all that you must learn you stay in heaven with God. So, don’t worry.
Describe the last time you felt inspired.
I feel inspired every day, because I get to paint.
What are you grateful for these days?
I’m grateful for the fact I’m here in Denver and I get to be here with my father as he transitions.
What are you working on letting go of these days?
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
That I like meeting new people and if you’re an art collector all my art is for sale.
Find Rochelle online:
Rochelle is curating a show in Denver at the McNichol’s Building in May. More details to come. Check her website or social media pages.