Beauty within Decay, Death within Life

Pam Rogers is in some ways the personification of a paradox. At first glance Rogers’ grand scale fluid watercolor works are strikingly quiet, subtle and beautiful, but at a closer look you will find an unexpected darkness in her work. Small electrical sockets bound into a natural sculpture, phallic shapes along side delicate flowers, and safety needles hidden in a bundle of herbs. Watching Rogers install her sculptures was not like most things I witnessed. A flower, specifically a red rose which intuitively is handled by most with such care, was violently wrapped in twine, pedals falling to the ground, with not even a shrug of her shoulders. The scent of lush aromatic herbs from Rogers’ suspended sculptures filled the gallery space and my senses with warmth and well-being, but gets interrupted by a large metal nail punctured through the sculpture, and obsessively wrapped flowers and plants. Rogers said during her installation “Sometimes I ask myself, what the hell are you doing, Pam? Why do you keep wrapping these plants?”  We all chuckled at her statement at the time, but as our curator Holly McCullough says “Rogers’ use of organic materials reinvents the classic still life and landscape tradition, placing a contemporary spin on the concept of beauty within decay, death within life, and the ultimate ephemerality of all existence.” Through Rogers’ use of natural materials, she explores issues of sustainability and growth, and the relationship between humans and nature. She works mainly on paper, and produces a lot of her own watercolor pigments, but also builds large and small scale sculptures, made mainly on natural materials.

Rogers is currently based in the DC metro area, but is originally from Colorado. She received her MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design, worked as a curator at Wellesley College, and is currently a resident at Arlington Arts Center, as well as an independent illustrator with the Anthropology department of the Smithsonian Institute. We are currently showing a large collection of her work at the Greater Reston Arts Center. CAIRNS: Works by Pam Rogers will be open until January 5. If you would like a chance to hear Holly McCullough or Pam Rogers speak about the exhibition, join us for our contemporary art dialogues on December 3 and December 10.

Photographs by Greg Staley. Click either image to see more images.

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