Eli Rose is an art student at first glance. With tousled hair, a sculpted mustache, and a red plaid flannel, he radiates enthusiasm for color, concept, and even a spontaneous interview at the local coffee shop.
Rose is currently a transfer student in his first year at Minnesota State University, Mankato, as a junior in studio art. When asked about the focus of his art major, Rose said, “There are many different types of art majors, and I’m all of them.” Installation is his specialty. It is a three-dimensional and site-specific type of art that is designed to transform the space where it exists. It combines elements of drawing, painting, and also elements that are not found in other art focuses.
The medium is less important to Rose than the concept behind the artwork. “I want to be free to express a concept how it ought to be expressed. If I could call my major something, it would be conceptual art. I don’t have to stick to a medium to express a concept.”
Near the beginning of his road as an artist, Rose engaged mostly in painting and drawing, with a concentration on watercolors. However, he began to grow weary of it when it didn’t allow him as much variety as he wanted. While studying art history, the freedom of abstract art struck Rose and he desired to incorporate that freedom to create into his own work.
Rose’s most recent installation project includes chopped logs and broken jars of red paint. “It’s not just a chopped log and a broken jar, but it kind of looks like a broken body. To me, it’s about my relationship with painting right now.” Rose explained that the paint in his installation is not a metaphor, it literally represents paint, because he is communicating that he is not in bondage to traditional painting methods anymore. Rose said that by discovering his freedom to break traditional rules, he now enjoys painting and drawing even more. He hopes that this new discovery will make any “traditional” work he does from now on even better and more important to the public.
“This project was the testing of an idea,” he said about his installation. “A lot of artists are dreamers. Another way to see if an idea is good or not is to just do something. Just create something.”
While artists may have a reputation for living in attics and surviving on instant oatmeal, Rose is a proponent of art’s career practicality as well as its importance to society. “Illustrations for stories, album covers, board games, T-shirts…literally anything that could have an image on it, I am somewhat equipped to make,” he said. “One thing about careers in general is that you can plan all you want, but it’s very unlikely that you will get the exact job you want. Even if you’re a nursing major, and want to be a nurse, you have no idea what state, city, or town where you will get a job. I’ve decided not to have a specific idea of what I want to do, but I know what I’m good at.”
He also hopes that he can one day make money from simply creating. “I hope to do [installation] for money some day.” To make this happen, more is involved than a workspace and creativity. Rose recognizes the need for marketing and public relations in the art field. “One edge I have over the average art student is that I love networking. A lot of art students think they can sit in private and make this work, but… you can’t ignore the social aspect.”
When he’s not in the art studio, Rose labels “trying new things” his hobby. He loves going out to eat at places he’s never visited before, or hearing things he’s never heard. “I love music. I’m learning to play the bass. My biggest hobby, outside of art, would have to be [that] I regularly play Smash Bros. competitively. Which I think is important, because the artist shouldn’t kill all of the child inside of him.”