Meet Ellen: Metals Resident

Meet Ellen Rogers

2019 Metals Resident

SY: Welcome to The Steel Yard! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

ER: I became an artist after a career as a wildlife veterinarian working primarily in Africa. Not surprisingly, much of my art relates to animals.

SY: What department are you working in?

ER: I’m in the Metals department, welding and a little bit of blacksmithing.

SY: Where are you from?

ER: I grew up in Massachusetts, but I have lived in Maine, New York state (northern, western, and central), Uganda (East Africa), South Africa, and now Rhode Island.

SY: We get this question a lot… how would YOU define Industrial Arts?

ER: To me, Industrial Arts means making arts or craft using industrial processes, like welding, blacksmithing, etc.

SY: What are you working on now?

ER: I have not had access to welding facilities in three years (!), so, right now I have so many projects in my head, it is difficult to focus on just one! The first major piece I hope to accomplish is a giraffe made of steel rings much like one I produced years ago. There is a “silent extinction” happening to giraffe in the wild, in part due to habitat loss, a new skin disease, and probably other factors we have not discovered yet.

Another project I want to tackle is a large scale, abstract elephant sculpture. That one will be only partially steel because I hope to do a performance art where I pull it through downtown Providence with a sign that says, “Don’t let this elephant be the only one left for your grandchildren!” Currently here is a war on elephants in the wild, and populations are being decimated.

SY: Who are your greatest inspirations? What work influences your work?

ER: Nature

SY: Do you show your work? Where can people see it/ buy it/ experience it?

ER: Most of my work goes to private collections, but I do have one sculpture of an elephant at Stone Quarry Hill Sculpture Park in Casenovia, NY. I hope to have pieces in other sculpture parks someday.

In addition to my metalwork, I also make installations that are free and open to the public, like my memorial day project “Remembering Our Fallen.” But the installations are impermanent and are taken down after a week or so.

SY: How did you find The Steel Yard?

When I moved to Rhode Island in 2016, I had to give up my welding studio in Hamilton, NY. I found The Steel Yard by looking for places to weld in Providence, RI.

SY: What were you doing before you joined the Residency Program?
ER: Sadly, I have been taking care of my elderly mother who had developed severe memory loss and physical frailty, which was/is all-consuming. I still take care of her two days per week (rather than 5-7 days per week).

SY: Have you ever worked in a shared studio before? What do you think?
I love shared studios! For both my BFA and MFA, I worked in shared spaces. I enjoy the company, people being around to help when needed, give feedback on work, teach me additional skills, etc. But the best part of shared studios is seeing the work of others!!

SY: Have you ever taken a Steel Yard course? Can you tell us about your experience?
I took a weekend blacksmithing course at The Steel Yard back in 2016. I learned SO much! Back in art school, I had been introduced to blacksmithing, but my skills were rudimentary at best when I started the course. Hopefully, I will gain additional skills through more courses and from watching the highly trained blacksmiths who will be using the all-new blacksmithing room.

SY: When you’re not in the studio working- what do you do in your free time?
I own a dog, a rescued greyhound. Or, should I say, she owns me. Mary is a cross between a supermodel (tall, thin, and gorgeous – according to strangers who meet her) and a princess (always seeking the softest possible place to lie down). I call her HRH for “Her Royal Highness.” She is pretty high maintenance, as all Royals are, and she keeps me busy in my off time.

I am also partial to watching British murder mysteries and reading about science in my free time.

SY: What are you MOST excited for this upcoming year?
I am SO excited about having access to welding facilities again! And being part of The Steel Yard!

SY: What do you think will be your greatest CHALLENGE?
My greatest challenge will be finding enough energy to accomplish everything I want to do. A year sounds like a long time, but large scale metal sculptures can take ages, especially when they are organic forms I create by welding free-hand like my giraffe.

SY: What skill would you like to master?

ER: Working in the studio and not getting dirty!

SY: Favorite tool in the shop?
ER: MIG welder

SY: Annnnnnnd finally, is there anything else you’d like the Yardie community to know about you?
ER: I would love to see more of other people’s work. It is very inspiring!! I hope we Residents and Yardies can find time to show each other past and present artwork, and that includes projects made by Public Works.

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