Steve Roden is a multimedia artist who works in painting, drawing, sculpture, video/film, and sound. He approaches painting, drawing, and sculpture as daily studio practices, while his sound and film/video work is usually created in response to a specific site and its history. Roden is a cross-disciplinary artist; he likes to create situations where there is slippage between mediums. The parameters that he creates, however arbitrary they may seem, free him up to work. Roden employed a number of generative systems in the work he made in Marfa, but he also allowed the work to be affected by his new surroundings. The results were on view at the Locker Plant at the end of February 2010. Hung in the building’s small middle room was a series of fifteen drawings, each originally “scored” to twenty crooked black lines that Roden drew on a daily basis while studying fallen twigs and branches in the Locker Plant’s courtyard.
Six paintings and two sculptures in the front room were also locally inspired. Roden began the paintings by studying the Locker Plant’s patchwork ceilings, then built up the canvases from there. To devise the color scheme for the sculptures—two knee-high cairns constructed from wooden blocks—Roden assigned a color to each letter of every word in a statement by Donald Judd. Thus the two sculptures, while unmistakably Roden’s, quote Judd.
In the Locker Plant’s back room Roden created a sort of meditative space. A sound piece, created using a tone generator and ambient noise recorded at Chinati, acted as an aural sine wave rising and falling through the room. On view was a single painting; nearby was a detached door that Roden used to “size” it. A bunch of twigs—source of the “twenty lines”—sat on the floor. Otherwise the big room was empty. A bench was available so that visitors could sit, look, and listen.
Steve Roden has a MFA degree from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA and a BFA from Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. He has been exhibiting his work and staging sound performances in galleries and museums internationally since the early 1990s. As part of Marfa Ballroom’s Marfa Sessions exhibition in 2008, he collaborated with Steven Vitiello on a sound performance created in response to (and on the site of) Donald Judd’s 100 works in mill aluminum at Chinati. He has had solo exhibitions at Susanne Vielmetter LA Projects, Los Angeles; the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; Studio la Citta, Verona, Italy; Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York; the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena; and others. Roden lives in Pasadena.