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Rudolph turns the ordinary into extraordinary

Local artist Karen Rudolph doesn’t see trash when she looks at tin can lids or discarded razor scooter wheels, she sees an opportunity for art.

Her work as a metalsmith runs the gambit from tin can purses to a table made completely of scooter wheels.

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Artist and metalsmith Karen Rudolph works on a tin can piece in the studio. Her studio space is part of the Chenoweth-Halligan Studio and Front Gallery, located at 1800 Rossville Ave.

“I’ve always been attracted to the recycling aspect of art,” she said. “I love seeing art that causes people to pause and think about waste systems and I would like for people to have that same response with my art.”

A graduate of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, N.C., Rudolph currently works and exhibits at the Chenoweth-Halligan Studio and Front Gallery, located at 1800 Rossville Ave. During the day she works as a program officer with the Lyndhurst Foundation and spends her nights and weekends working on art.

While studying at a folk school, Rudolph studied under Bobby Hansson, author of “The Fine Art of the Tin Can: Techniques and Inspirations.” It was during his class that she developed her signature tin can purse, but more recently Rudolph said she is taking a new approach to tin can lids.

She recently discovered patinas, a tarnish that creates color on a metal surface after oxidization. She has been working on a series where she hammers out tin can lids, lays them out in a pattern on a surface and then applies the patina.

“I’m really drawn to patterns,” she said of the tin can lid patterns. “They almost become so abstract they’re unrecognizable once they’re overlapped.”

The final result is a piece with varied color and texture, as the lids make a unique pattern and the patina reacts differently with each lid. According to Rudolph there is a real sense of satisfaction that comes with taking a discarded item and making it into something useful or cool.

“The magic of old items has always drawn my attention,” she said. “I grew up in Indiana and a lot of the family still lives there and runs the family farm. I was always digging in barns or looking in attics.”

Rudolph said one of her goals this year is to attempt more jewelry in addition to the work she is already creating.

For more information or to view her work, visit www.ruderockdesign.com. Studio visits area available by appointment.

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