Rose Umerlik

Rose Umerlik

“Rose Umerlik’s work brings human emotion to the painted surface, allowing us to sense an inner dialogue or interpersonal tension without the body. Even as she juxtaposes and combines contrasting colors, lines, and forms, her work retains an abiding sense of harmony and beauty.”  –Mark Golden, Sam & Adele Golden Foundation for the Arts


Rose Umerlik received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, with strong influences from Stephen Zaima who impressed upon her the importance of one’s ability to self-evaluate, and the “work method.” The backbone of her studio practice is based on a strong work ethic and dedication to being present and honest with her work.

Umerlik has had thirteen solo exhibitions in New England and has been included in numerous group exhibitions across the country and internationally. Her work has been reviewed in Art New England and Artscope. She has also published two books, Intimacy of Forms and Histories.

Among other awards, she has received a grant from the NH State Council on the Arts to participate in the Takt Kunstprojektraum Residency in Berlin, Germany, a fellowship for the Golden Foundation Residency Program, and the Clowes Award from the Vermont Studio Center. Umerlik maintains a full-time studio practice in Rollinsford, NH.

Process and Media

“Before I reach the moment where I approach a panel with oil paint or pencil, I’ve already spent weeks building the panels and layering them with multiple different grounds to create the toughest surface possible. The rigidity of the panels is necessary to hold up to the aggressive pencil drawings, and the repeated laying down and wiping away of paint that mark the beginning of each piece. By layering graphite lines and staining the surface with color, I work through numerous ideas before settling into a “story.” The faded drawings and pigments are the building blocks of each piece. The “story” that emerges in a painting will usually come from a distinct moment when I recognize a human experience in the way two forms are relating to each other, or the interaction of lines within a color field. That “moment of recognition” comes during each painting and it is my way of exploring what it is to be human, what it is to be a part of a culture, and what it is to love, fear or hope. I will flesh out these “moments” with thicker layers of paint. I use opacity to direct the viewer to what I find to be powerful and evocative. Opaque lines and forms intermingling with color stains and drawings are the key tools in my physical painting process, but I would have no need for them without my infinite fascination with humanity, relationships and emotion.”


“My art practice is inextricably tied to my personal history. Stories of family, relationships, and self-awareness generate forces of emotion– fear, hope, loss, pain, and love–that drive me through the creation of each painting.

From the beginning of each piece, I lay down shapes, lines and bodies of color. As I manipulate these elements, I intuitively recognize how the correlation of these elements mirrors my interpersonal relationships. At different times these lines and forms vary in the way they relate to one another. Sometimes they hold each other, or gesture lovingly; other times they oppose each other or interact aggressively; sometimes their relationship is uncomfortable or uncertain; other times they strive for isolation.

As I move through moments of personal recognition, these moments influence the formulation of the composition. I engage in an extended series of decisions and revisions; tensions undulate on the painted surface, layers of lines, pigments, and shapes are laid down, cleared, and then selectively restored. When a painting is realized conclusively, the surface is necessarily multifarious, the reworked layers reflect my ongoing struggle to accept my history, my present, and to be hopeful of the future.

This complexity of formal elements and process is present throughout my work. My aim is not only to mirror the intricacies of my personal story, but also to connect with the viewer, to echo the personal, emotional struggles that resonate with each of us, and that are present in the collective human mind and heart.”


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