Photographer Ronda Stone’s remarkable sense of curiosity is in evidence everywhere: her conversation, her art, and her life. Even more remarkable is her perseverance in pursuing a life in the arts. She is a lifelong Coloradan, who moved from Estes Park to Loveland in the 1970’s. As a single mom to three kids, it was here that she began to establish deep friendships and find supportive community. Now, working from her studio at Artworks Loveland, she continues to follow the arc of her creativity wherever it leads.
You are a photographer, but your first medium was paint. Tell us about that evolution.
There were three really important painters here in Loveland when I moved here in the 70’s – Hugo Anderson, James Disney, and James Gardner – and they were friends. Somehow, I got lucky enough to be their friend too. Not only did I learn by taking their workshops, but they taught me so much about how to see. Those lessons are still with me today.
Later in life, I decided to take art classes at CSU. I was poor, so I took one class at a time – it took me 10 years to get through. Early in my senior year, I had been trying to paint about social issues and I couldn’t get it done. I happened to take a creative photography class, and I found out that was the medium to do what I wanted to do. It was like a fire was lit under me. It changed me. I really miss painting and drawing, but photography is my medium – no doubt about it.
How would you describe your work to someone who’s never seen it?
I like photographing people. I’ve done some pretty major social issue exhibits, including covering the GLBTQ community, incest, and domestic violence. Now, I try to capture what’s going on inside of people. Everyone is not going to show you who they are, and that is okay. But there is a lot of stuff that goes on inside of us that we all struggle with. I think that my photographs are about bringing a person out of themselves.
What’s next for you? Any upcoming exhibits?
I will be exhibiting my new project The Afternoon of Life, April/May at Artworks Loveland. I photographed members of the elder community and delved into the perceptions and reality of their lives. It opens at Artworks on April 12, 2019 during Night on the Town.
I am exploring new directions, too. I recently went to a workshop and I said to the instructor – “I’ve done this work for a lot of time and I think I’ve reached the end of it. I have no idea what to do next.” He told me to do the opposite of everything. Instead of black and white – do color. So, I started doing color, and photographing close up. I wanted to make it abstract or painterly, which ties back to my painting days. It has been fun to explore.
What do you wish people knew about what it means to be a working artist?
Being an artist is like any other career – we are pursuing what interests us, just as a business person is interested in business and pursues it. I wish people would ask more questions – simple things like, “what is it like being in your studio all day?” “How do you get an exhibit?” “Could we go to an art museum together and talk about it?” The more you know about an artist, the more exciting it is. Once you begin to study art, you are hooked. When I learn something new about an artist, it always just blows me away.
At Live Loveland we are on a mission to celebrate, engage and unify our community. How do you choose to engage with the community?
Especially being here at Artworks, engaging with the community is super valuable. You don’t have to get involved in everything, but you can at least understand what different groups are doing and be involved when you can be. For example, I like to make sure that I go down to the museum and talk to the people there, ask them questions. I think the community becomes stronger the more we know what’s going on with each other. There are so many small things that you can do to make a big difference.
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By Jessica Moskwa Hawkins
March 11, 2019