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Facing Warren Towers

Revisiting the year’s visual arts: When Erika Rosendale (CFA’09) made it big

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Watch the slide show above to learn more about Erika Rosendale’s public art. Photos by Vernon Doucette and Kalman Zabarsky

Some pieces hang in a museum for centuries, others never make it out of a studio. Some reside on stretched canvas, others on an urban wall. Some rely on paint, others on electrons. But all good art deserves more than one good look. So this week, we’re resurrecting some of our arts coverage from the academic year just concluded, offering one a day — vitamins for the spirit.

When Erika Rosendale (CFA’09) started work on a routine class assignment in spring 2008, she never thought it would scale the heights, quite literally, of Warren Towers.

But her vibrant and colorful piece Characters of BU was up and beaming from the windows of the Comm Ave residence hall as students descended on the Charles River Campus over Labor Day weekend.

Rosendale’s work was chosen from among several student proposals that came out of the College of Fine Arts interdisciplinary course Site-Specific Art.

“The idea was that the student not only came up with the idea, but was also involved heavily in the project management to see it all the way through,” says Hugh O’Donnell, a CFA professor of painting, who teaches the course. The class introduces students to the process of conceiving, creating, and installing a commissioned work of art. Several pieces are on display around campus.

“It’s a great arrangement for everyone,” says O’Donnell. The client — in this case Warren Towers — benefits from the art, he says, and the student can use it as a portfolio piece.

For Rosendale, the chance to showcase her work on such a public stage is invaluable.

Although she considers herself a “totally traditional” painter, Rosendale says the experience of preparing her artwork electronically and working with a graphic design company to adapt and install it is an important lesson for today’s young artists.

“There are many, many great artists out there, but it’s the people who make a convincing argument who get their work seen, and you need experience making proposals to do that,” she says. “Someone can be a great artist but not have it known if they don’t know how to present it. They are going to rely on luck to get noticed.”

Edward Brown can be reached at ebrown@bu.edu.

Thumbnail image by Kalman Zabarsky

This story originally ran September 5, 2008.

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