In our culture, Disney movies have led us to equate fairy tales with fluffy princess dresses, singing mice, and happily ever after endings, but this is a purely Westernized notion -- and a recent one, at that. Historically, folklore from other cultural traditions can be quite dark and morbid, and a measure of nuance and impact is lost when mythological figures are sanitized and watered down. Stacey Rozich is an artist who creates paintings that place folklore and fairytales in their traditional and rightful place of unsettling richness.
Rozich is a Seattle native and grew up in a creative household; her father and sister are both artists, and she was raised to view the act of making art as a normal part of everyday life. "My father always told me, 'Draw every day," she explains over beers at her house. "And so, I did." Rozich has a strong work ethic and has always been prolific in her work, but she has honed her focus and fully hit her stride with her current series of images. She credits her fascination with folk iconography in part to the rich cultural heritage and imposing natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, but her interest also stems from her family's Croatian roots.
Rozich draws heavily from her Eastern European background, cobbling together elements of traditional Croatian folklore with a hodgepodge of influences borrowed from other cultures. She is a dedicated researcher, and while her patterns give the impression of being effortlessly created, that measured nonchalance is the result of Rozich's careful search and study of intriguing reference materials. Her interest in patterns was a tangent that eventually became the focus of her works.
"I did a lot of wolves at first," she says, "but then lost interest because everyone is doing the whole woodland creature thing. So instead, I sat down and started to focus more on the patterns."
"As I got older, I learned that if you can convey a story with an image, then you're good; you're golden. So I focused on having this background narrative that wasn't quite obvious, yet each piece has a little vignette -- a little drama in it."
- Stacey Rozich
13 November, 2010