Favorite Contemporary Artist: Stephanie Rond

Stephanie Rond is a contemporary artist based in Columbus, OH who creates street art that can be seen around the city. Rond has had a documentary made about her work, she has represented North America in the “She’s a Leader” street art project and her solo show, Dangerous Impermanence, was listed in The Columbus Dispatch’s Best Art Exhibits of 2014.

Her work is stunning in its portrayal of strong, young girls placed in magical scenarios. Her most popular subjects, called “ghost girls,” do not show their faces and are generally depicted in hoodies to challenge the viewer’s preconceived notions of gender and race in the context of power. In one of my favorite pieces, Love is Love, Rond uses hand-cut stencil and spray paint to create a powerful image of a “ghost girl” pouring the cosmos out of a watering can. While the title alone comments on enforced scripts of heterosexuality, I was particularly struck by the subversion of gender roles in the piece. So often, women are portrayed in domestic roles such as cooking in a kitchen or tending to a garden. Instead of following that narrative, Rond chooses to show a girl dressed in gender-neutral clothing who can create an entire universe in just one move. Rond creates a sense of agency for her subjects that is so often taken away from women in art, and it is truly inspiring.

I was honored then when she asked me to model for some of her pieces. During the modeling process, Rond created a relaxed environment as we played around with various poses until we both felt satisfied with the photograph she would later use to make stencil cuts. Rond’s active mind and compassionate heart really shone throughout the process as she discussed with me at length how women are portrayed negatively in advertising and how she hoped to destroy those stereotypes in her art. It was clear that Rond sought to make her art accessible to all, as most of her work can be found in the streets of Columbus and on the walls of small businesses, but it was also clear that she wanted to challenge societal prejudices. Rond balances these two aspects of her art with grace, and the result is beautiful work that can be enjoyed by people of all backgrounds.

Vahni Kurra ’20

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