Nancy Rodwan turns unwanted items into art treasures, exhibit opens March 24 at Annex Gallery

Nancy Rodwan turns unwanted items into art treasures, exhibit opens March 24 at Annex Gallery
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What do you do with unwanted items cast off by family, friends and just acquaintances?

Just ask Detroit artist Nancy J. Rodwan. She transforms them into art.

Rodwan’s reworked everyday goods like clothing, kitchen utensils, obsolete electronics, books, toys, and car parts into paintings, sculptures, fiber art, assemblages, and collages – as well as into provocative meditations on Americans’ relationships with their stuff.

She made a short film using Wonder Woman dolls given to her by WDET radio host Ann Delisi. She transformed musician Nadir Omowale’s twins’ outgrown baby shoes into a deity of funk figure and a typewriter provided by Stephen Henderson, former Detroit Free Press managing director of opinion and commentary, became the politically potent sculpture “Uprising.”

Courtesy photo

A multimedia solo exhibit of her work opens at the Annex Gallery, 333 Midland in Highland Park, on Saturday, March 24. The opening reception is from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The closing reception will be held from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday, April 14.

That closing reception will launch Rodwan’s book, Purged: The Art of Metamorphosis, which chronicles her multi-year project of taking unwanted items cast off by friends, acquaintances, and relatives and transforming them into art. The book release will feature a colorful companion book and a live interview between Rodwan and WDET’s Delisi as well as short readings by local poets who wrote original work specifically for the book. There will also be cake from Good Cakes and Bakes.

Purged: The Art of Metamorphosis includes before-and-after photos of each donated thing and the artwork it became. It also contains Rodwan’s thoughts on the back stories of the objects given to her and/or descriptions of her process of recreating them.

The show and book both include 40 works of art made from items supplied by more than 40 people – sometimes multiple “purged” items were combined into individual pieces. The book also features original contributions on the theme of metamorphosis by writers Maia Asshaq, Terry Blackhawk, Andrea Daniel, and Bill Harris.

Purged: The Art of Metamorphosis is published by the Ridgeway Press.

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