CW Roelle grew up in and around Palmyra/ Shortsville/ Manchester NY. The Finger Lakes region. It’s pretty up there. After high school he moved to Baltimore MD to attend The Maryland Institute College of Art. First a Visual Communications major, he quickly realized that graphic design and computers and all that weren’t his thing, so he became a painting major, but painting was a little messier than he had bargained for, so he went for General Fine Arts. Knowing only that he liked to draw, he concentrated on life drawing classes to see where that took him. After several semesters of filling sketch books with pencil line drawings he started to feel too far removed from the line he was making and wanted to reach into the paper and grab it and move it around. Realizing that this was not really possible, he opted instead to use wire, a line he could move around easily, but that would also hold its shape. The first wire drawings were loose reinterpretations of the figure drawings done in class but soon evolved to made up cartoony figures and later scenes that those figures could be situated in. When he graduated from MICA he was working in a video store in the Bolton Hill neighborhood and customers would see the little wire images he was making and some would commission pieces of their houses or their families. This was a turning point because now the images had to look like specific people and working from photographs was necessary. As he made more of these portraits the figures lost their cartoon qualities and more realistic, grander images started to take shape. At the time Baltimore was a potentially unfriendly place to live and an opportunity arose for CW to move to Providence RI. So he did. Since moving he has had many shows and won both a state fellowship in three dimensional art, as well as The Robert And Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship from The Rhode Island Foundation. These awards have helped him to get a studio and, among other things, a mig welder with which his pieces are getting bigger and sturdier all the time. He has also made a career as a parking lot attendant in several lots around town, working on projects in between cashing out cars.
Source: NetWorks 2008 Catalogue
Video: Richard Goulis
Still photography: Pamela Murray
Music: “Adrienne,” “Lillian,” “Hey There,” “When I’m Gone”
All songs written by CW Roelle, performed by CW Roelle & Geoff Griffin (The Sentimental Favorites)
Additional footage provided by: DIY Craft Lab, Scripps Networks Inc.
Executive Producer: Joseph A. Chazan M.D.
Artist’s website: cwroelle.tumblr.com
Highlighting the work of selected artists who have played vital roles in shaping the contemporary visual arts community in Rhode Island. This collection of brief video portraits provides a window into the lives, practices, and cultural contributions of professional artists.