Throughout her career, P.J. (Phyllis Jean) Rogers (1925-2014) quietly but fearlessly explored distinct media, arduous techniques, and challenging processes. Trained as a painter and sculptor as a graduate student at the University of Buffalo, Rogers began her career in Akron, Ohio in the 1950’s as an acclaimed portrait artist. Propelled by curiosity rather than dissatisfaction, she segued into printmaking after studying the collection at Chicago’s Frumking Gallery. Her penchant for self-actualization as an artist soon precipitated a fascination with aquatint, attracted by its potential lucidity and inherent contrast in values. She acknowledged her compatibility with the medium as she wrote, ,”…I seek the Life that is beneath but parallel to the superficial. I am interested in transparency, meaning the stripping away of the superficial to understand the core – the gradual breakdown of forms and feelings – to understand – absorbed into blackness (the mass of all particles) and reflected back as the cycle begins anew.”
In the 1970’s, Rogers embraced aquatint as a medium, masterfully extracting all its tonal variations. She garnered national attention for her work throughout the 1980’s. Then undeterred by an increasing physical aversion to the toxicity of aquatint material, she seamlessly transposed her “need to strip away to the superficial” to a new-found medium: Digital printmaking. After her initiation into manipulating photographic images with a second-hand Polaroid, Rogers took to 21st Century technology, mastering Photoshop, and bravely extending her technical virtuosity by “painting with a computer.” With seemingly intuitive dexterity, she transformed simple botanicals into startingly dimensional chromatic forms and manipulated intricate imagery into multi-layered collages. With these innovative processes, Rogers never betrayed her allegiance to traditional media; rather, she perpetuated the visual impact of woodcut and aquatint. Culminating her forty plus year career with rich continuity, she reflected;
” I wish to express change and movement and the idea that time is made up of the overlapping of many small moments.”
That career included a plethora of awards and exhibitions as well as inclusion in major collections, such as that of the renown Cleveland Museum of Art, the Portland Oregon Art Museum, the New Jersey State Museum, the Buffalo Museum of Science, Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals, The Akron Art Museum and The Ringling School of Art and Design. Widely and consistently shown regionally, a broad swath of national and international galleries have exhibited her paintings, collages, sculptures and prints (including woodcut, aquatint and digital); to mention only a few venues, the Society of American Graphic Artists, New York, NY (’83, ’85-’92); Boston Printmakers, North American Print Exhibition, Boston MA (’83, ’86, ’88 and ’91); Pratt Manhattan Center Gallery, NY, 1986; Stockton National Print and Drawing Exhibition, Haggin Museum, Stockton, CA, 1985; and Miami International Print Biennial, Miami Museum, FL,1984. PJ Rogers received numerous prestigious accolades such as the Sherman Lee Honor Award in 1983, named after the revered director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. She is a featured artist in David Acton’s book, 60 Years of North American Printmakers: 1947-2007; she is also listed the volumes Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who Among American Women Artists, and American Artists, Krantz Co. publishers . As the ultimate act of approbation, Harris Stanton Gallery in Akron devoted itself to a solo retrospective exhibition, based on 30 years of Rogers’ work in 2011.