Textile and mural artist, Aubrey Roemer, the 2018 Guild Hall Education Corridor Artist, presents her mural project Blue It! from Friday, November 16, through February 25. Roemer came out to the East End in 2014 for a winter escape and fell in love with Montauk. She painted “Leviathan,” portraits of 200 people which were shown in a set of installations throughout the summer and fall of 2014.
Roemer lives in Brooklyn and is studying for her master’s degree at Pratt Institute. Roemer’s exhibits bring light to social and environmental issues. Her project at Guild Hall, a 30-foot mural, examines the health issues of the waterways surrounding the East End.
Did you always want to become an artist?
Yes, without a question. I was very fortunate in that matter. It struck me like lightning and I was compelled to do it. I knew for sure by the time I was in kindergarten. I’d wake up anticipating my turn at the easel and paints during recess, with the expectancy of Christmas Eve.
How do you choose the media you work with?
That’s an evolving situation. A lot of my work is project based. From project to project, I try to use materials that make sense. I’m attracted to upcycling and recycling.
I started off as a painter. I’ve progressed, into adulthood, becoming more involved with photography and photographic processes. More interception with painting and mural art. A lot of my work is done on a large, mural like scale generally. I try to subvert it from just using the traditional material to give it a second life or another purpose. Fabric in all its iterations is a wonderful vehicle for and metaphor for the human condition. Use it in my work, generally upcycled linens. Rather than being trash, or even if it’s not trash, like a protest banner.
You have global projects that focus on key issues. What are some initiatives you’re involved in?
It’s good for people to be aware of all communities. Right now, we have enough issues within our own country, so a lot of my work has been bringing awareness to local issues. Although I’ve done a lot of working on issues outside of this country, initially a lot of it was hoping to gain awareness, personally.
Art isn’t the only form of awareness. There’s a balance between institutional art and social practice, which is a line I dance on. The decision you make as a consumer not only affects your direct environment but has impact all over the planet. Your clothes, your food, your planet. It’s just good to be aware of intricate global nature. Learning broadly about any social, political, or economic issue makes you a better person and produces empathy.
How does the human condition inspire you? Is it inherently a positive or negative force?
I think it’s wonderful to celebrate humanity as a whole. The good part of humanity is that a community comes together. Christmas, birthdays election days, they come together to make beautiful things. That’s the promise. There is no end of terrible things about the human condition but I try to stay optimistic. I’m not getting out alive.
What do you want to bring awareness to with your art?
Classic pollution and littering in general. I think a lot of people don’t realize that ocean pollution comes from land. Once it’s in the ocean, it’s almost impossible to retract it because it keeps getting broken down and gets ingested by these animals that we then consume ourselves. So, in essence, we’re poisoning ourselves. It’s very troublesome.
I also like to make beautiful things.
How did you come up with the mural project Blue It!?
I’m a huge cyclist. I cycle to and from school all the time. There is so much pollution, it’s crazy. Baby toys, coffee cups, alcohol bottles, syringes. I thought to myself, what if I started printing all of these things that I find? And then [curator] Casey Delane approached me about doing a project with Guild Hall, but I wanted to do a political bend on this one. What would be more beautiful than collecting trash from here and there and printing it into a giant blue sea?
Are there any other foundations you’ve worked with on the East End?
For this project I worked with Surfrider. I volunteered with Camp SoulGrow, then Hayground and East End Cares, and Paddlers For Humanity.
What issues do you feel are most pressing for Americans?
What issue isn’t? I hope for us to come together and remember what this country was founded on. We were founded on freedom of individual rights, to do and love and choose as we wish. We really should look at that history and the full history of this country.