As we celebrate our fifth anniversary, we look back at some of the neighborhood’s favorite daughters and sons. Writer Julia Weiden profiles Roz Roy, first interviewed by Find It In Fondren™ in March 2011.
Faceless angels adorn the walls of Roz Roy’s studio, watching over as she creates her artwork. The angels are some of Roz’s signature paintings, and while she continues to enjoy creating them, she recently declared a love of a new medium: “This is my year of clay!”
Unfortunately, Roz’s year of clay has not gone quite as smoothly as she had hoped. Given a bad vaccine that resulted in a polio diagnosis at just eight months old, Roz has a permanent disability that forces her to wear a brace on her left leg. This creates a challenge in working with clay sculpting, which requires the artist to be on her feet for a long stretch of time. To make matters worse, Roz took a spill this spring and fractured her already weak leg. She was told by the doctor to stay in bed while her leg healed, and not to get up unless absolutely necessary.
Bedridden, dependent, and unable to create for weeks, Roz’s injury turned into a personal tragedy. Feeling extremely humbled by the inability to perform simple tasks, like tying her own shoes, Roz decided to take the anguish she felt and put all of her energy into rehabilitation. Still determined to make this her “year of clay,” she recognized that she would need to regain as much strength as possible. “A painter paints, and they can stand back and look at it,” she says. But a clay sculptor needs to be on her feet, working the clay from all angles.
This ability to pull strength from hardship is reminiscent of a time in Roz’s life nearly a decade ago, when she lost both her father and brother in a span of two years. From that great loss, Roz was able to put her emotions into her art and display her pain through colors on canvas. That commitment to her art led her to become a member of the Mississippi Craftsmen’s Guild and the Mississippi Arts Commission’s artist roster and allowed her to teach students of all ages and abilities.
Now that Roz has been through the healing process and her leg is stronger than it has ever been before, she has been inspired her to work on a new show. In this series she stays away from realism, stating that it is too “perfect” for her. “Why can’t there be one leg, or one arm, or hair sticking up?” she asks. That said, she wants to capture an internal pain, calling her line “Deception: Don’t you be fooled, everything that looks good, ain’t good.”