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Columbus, Ohio USA
Art: Elizabeth Ann James, Columnist
June 2009
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Goddesses in clay
Denise Romecki at Studios on High

Soul of the Earth

This spring Denise Romecki’s sculpture was showcased at the Ohio Craft Museum’s “Best of 2009” exhibit and at the High Road Gallery’s “Show of Teachers and Their Students.”

On July 30, Romecki will open an exhibit at the Dublin Arts Center, 7125 Riverside Dr., with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. “Nature’s Hybrids,” refers to the imaginative qualities of Romecki’s sculpture. The exhibit runs through September 25, 2009. In the meantime, and likely for a long time, Denise Romecki’s art will remain on view and for sale at the marvelous Studios on High Gallery, 686 N. High St. in the Short North.

Romecki who holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbus College of Art & Design, and a master’s from The Ohio State University, was a full-time staff member at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center. Since her retirement in December 2008, she has returned to the center to continue teaching sculpture classes three days a week. She said she loves being there because “the staff, students, and the atmosphere make it such a pleasure.”

Romecki is a first-class sculptor of small-to-large clay works. She loves the natural world because “it provides endless inspiration.” Among her works is Soul of the Earth, an earthy goddess-like figure that will be included in her exhibit at the Dublin Arts Center. It is vintage Romecki and representative of her ethos. She has sculpted many woman-spirit images, and this minimal yet profound sculpture presents a woman-shape in clay. The torso, indeed, her body consists of the smooth pale brown hues of a creek bed. Her hair is black wire and clay. It twists and turns in tendrils resembling snakes. The heart-shaped face is calm and tan; we cannot see her mouth, yet we know she is smiling.

Tree Bark Vessel

Romecki often sculpts horses and other animals in action, and there are frequently graceful examples of them meandering the rooms of Studios on High and her own home. Her goddess figures are similar, yet one-of-a-kind, each expressing a story or statement. The fine sculptor also creates bowls and pots. Some of her newer organic bowls and (baskets) appear to be made of tree bark but are finely glazed inside and functional as well as sculptural. She has also made tall flower-like forms, around 20 inches, shaped like blossoms on thick stems. They can be used to hold candles and are gorgeous.

So where does clay actually come from? Romecki gave me a brief explanation of a very long process. Over millions of years rocks and cliffs were eroded by water and carried away as finer and finer particles that came to rest in creekbeds and lakes. They became compressed layers that went through further geological changes and eventually got pushed back up to the earth’s surface as clay. Clay “is as old as time
itself.” And this process goes on continuously.

During her semi-retirement, Romecki has more time for sculpting, reading, and gardening at her attractive old home in Greater Clintonville. Her backyard is a marvel, landscaped by herself. A giant bull frog oversees the pond – I thought he was a clay statue! Romecki says he’s the boss, and though he doesn’t seem to bother the fish and other frogs, “small birds better watch out.” The large back garden contains not only flowers, shrubs and arbors, but spaces for tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. Three rescue cats – Blue, Pepper, and Soshi – share Romecki’s home and garden.

In concluding our interview Denise Romecki said, “I think of clay as a gift and like to believe as the Native Americans ‘that all things in the natural world have a spirit and deserve our respect.’”

Visit to see more of her work.

Studios on High gallery, 686 N. High St., is owned and operated by 18 local artists and has been in existence for over 23 years. All artwork displayed is original and one of a kind. Artists daily demonstrate their work in various media. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday 12-6 p.m., and Sunday 1-6 p.m. Call (614) 461-6487 or visit online at for more information.

© 2009 Short North Gazette, Columbus, Ohio. All rights reserved.

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