Jennifer Pizutti Rock '04 Exhibits Work at Peoria Art Guild

October 11, 2011

"ROCK STEADY"

Metamora artist to have work shown as part of Local Color series at Peoria Art Guild

Metamora artist Jennifer Pizutti Rock "04 believes art should be a pleasant escape since most of day-to-day life is heavy enough.

"My whole theory about art is that it should be a visceral, enjoyable experience," Rock, 29, said during a recent phone interview. "I get annoyed with people who are really smug about what they know or think they know about art. I try to steer clear of political banter, or anything that could be perceived as some kind of social commentary."

Rock's paintings will be displayed at the Peoria Art Guild Oct. 1-31 as part of the Local Color series. 

Rock likes her artwork to touch people on a subconscious level. "I want people to think whatever they want to think about my art. Just look at it and have some sort of reaction."

The skilled use of color is key in her efforts to elicit reaction. "I've always had a good relationship with and understanding of color. You can literally evoke an emotion or feeling just based on color."

"When I start a painting I literally start off with a color wheel in my hand," said Rock. "I think about where everything is going to be placed on the canvas and in what ratio. I've learned through 15 years of study how to create a sophisticated palette. It's not always bright, shiny color. Most of the time there's some grime and grit there."

Contemporary American artist Jasper Johns is one of Rock's inspirations. "I like the grit and mess that he uses in his paintings. I don't think that I need to be pristine in my work."

Rock did her thesis on theoretical color while working on a Bachelor of Fine Art degree at Bradley University. She graduated in 2004. She mentored area painters with a series of color theory seminars at the Peoria Art Guild where she taught painting classes for children and adults from 2006 to 2009.

Rock's Local Color paintings will feature her friends and family, as well as some area livestock. The canvases are created from pieces of muslin and canvas stitched into a patchwork and dyed in a rainbow of colors. Images of her friends, both human and animal, are painted on the colored canvases using a positive and negative technique inspired by Andy Warhol's famous painting of Argentina's Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara.

Rock uses images of her friends in fun poses, making silly faces or showing off the not-so-perfect aspects of their appearance. She chose the images because people take themselves and their lives too seriously, she said.

"We don't have enough fun in our day-to-day lives," she said. "People would have a lot more fun if they could just relax."

In using images of farm animals living around Rock's Metamora home, the artist is showing something that is often ignored.

"People don't take enough time to look at the livestock in their town, to see that they are beautiful, not just steak." Rock insists that her intentions are not political, however. "I eat meat."

The process of making art is key for the artist. The experience is intellectual and enjoyable, and Rock wants to share it with her audience. An informational board showing how the work was made will be included in the display.

"I think that people can respect and enjoy the creative process that makes, in the end, just something really beautiful," said Rock.

Enjoying the process of making art is important because Rock squeezes her creative activities into her busy day. She works at a local day care center so she often creates art early in the morning or late at night.

Rock also owns a business called Grassroots where she sells hand-made, one-of-a-kind beanbag sets, handbags and jewelry. She makes everything herself.

"My business is a way I can satisfy my need to create and a means to help support my husband and I." Most of her customers come to her through word-of-mouth. To see her work search "grassrootsbyjen" on Facebook.

Rock's Grassroots line is created from mostly recycled materials. "I think that consumerism sometimes get the best of us, so with Grassroots I really wanted to reuse and re-purpose," she said.

As of early September, Rock was still making the artwork for the Local Color show. But the moments she finds in her busy schedule to do the work are often the best hours of her day.

"It's enjoyable and fun for me because I don't get to have a whole lot of fun when it comes to my other stuff."

Article printed with permission, Peoria Journal Star, Gary Panetta.