Meet the Artist: Rochelle Garrison

Photo: Courtesy of Rochelle Garrison

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. 

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, in an Orthodox and insular community.  I felt like I was bound by so many rules and barriers, while all I was yearning for was free reign. I was never a “traditional” girl, ultimately receiving a degree in orthopedics and treating some of the world’s athletes and celebrities. I realized early on that I had the gift of being artistic and used that talent to give classes. I also used that talent to escape many of the challenges I experienced in my life.

When I was young, I learned that I was adopted, which was probably the source of my free spirit and the inability to conform. As I got older, I could not contain my deep desire to search for my birth family. I met my Jewish birth mother early on. When I realized I was nothing like her, I developed a deep yearning to find my father. Through DNA this dream was realized which led me to Indiana where I immediately felt at home. It was there that I discovered that my father was a local artist famed for his artistic genius in stained glass and design. 

My hands that God gifted to me came with the extra bonus of clarity and intuitively knowing that art runs deep in my veins. I have been blessed with 4 beautiful and creative daughters, 4 grandchildren to date, each one a TRUE masterpiece!

I currently reside in Oceanside, NY where I have my own studio called Garrison Design Studio. Besides my commissions I also continue to give classes.

What inspired you to become an artist?

It is extremely hard to describe a specific inspiration. I do know this; to be able to create and share my visions by sending them into the universe brings me a tremendous amount of happiness, satisfaction, and peace. In anything I take on in life, including my orthopedics, I absolutely love the creativity I can bring forth.

The healing energy of gemstones has always seemed to have given me the serenity and strength I needed to get by through the difficult periods in my life. Now that life is calmer for me, I love their colors, textures, and historical values, many from the Torah and Kabbalah.

What is your specialty? 

I consider myself a multi-media artist. My favorite medium is epoxy resin incorporated with gemstones. I have incorporated this medium to create Judaic and Modern art. My range includes challah boards and Mezuzahs, up to large, statement-making pieces that are hanging in wonderful homes and Synagogues. 

 How and where do you work?

I work at my leisure unless pressed by a client to finish a project by a target date. My large studio with vaulted ceiling, overlooking a large lavish garden which I planted and an inviting pool, gives me the perfect inspiration and Zen to attend to my craft. The air space and windows allow for plenty of air and natural light providing me with ability to get the specific colors and hues I desire.

What is the most indispensable item in your studio?

I would without a doubt say my comfy purple velvet chair! Sitting on it always allows me to sit back and look at my work objectively, toss ideas around in my head and think creatively.

Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?

I am mostly inspired by the daily things around me. A color, a smell, a texture… simple things! My belief is there is a lot of meaning in the ordinary, the small and the everyday. 

My inspiration and pieces are eclectic to say the least. Covering a large gamut of both subject and mediums. My life lessons allow me to put myself into my work expressing my feelings, passions, and desires. I am currently working on combining my love of precious stones and thoughtful quotes, whether biblical or Talmudic. I genuinely believe that one can receive inspiration from their messages.   

Do you do bespoke work?

But of course!! I would venture to say that almost 35 percent of what I do is on a piece by piece basis with input from the client at the onset. I enjoy the opportunity to focus on something which may truly challenge me.  The satisfaction of seeing smiles on my clients’ faces brings me back to the realization that not only do I love what I do but this is my true calling.

What projects are you currently working on?

One piece I wish to highlight is a detailed rendition of the Choshen (breastplate) worn by the Kohen Gadol (high priest in the tabernacle.) I am combining several mediums including gold leaf, along with precious and semi-precious stones, giving a new dimension where it almost seems to come alive and jump out in front of you. I have been working on this piece for over a year now! 

What are your favourite items in your current collection?

That is like asking a parent which is your favorite child? Certainly, each of my children are my “favorite child!” Just ask them!

I created my perspective of “The Tree of Life”. 

Combining both the importance of roots and branches. I created a balanced theme of nature and nurture. It is embedded with Emeralds, Lapis Lazuli, Peridot, and other gemstones. It also features a ring of Venetian Glass.

How do you know when a piece is finished? 

My belief is that just like anything in life, at some point it is time to just let go!  We no longer can change, fix, or make something better. It is at that point I know the piece is done. Call it a gut feeling or an intuition, either way the piece looks back at me and I know it is complete.

What was the first artwork you ever sold?

I was 14 years old and it was a small wall hanging piece that I painted, encrusted with fire red stones, with just the word “LOVE.” But underneath, with gold leaf it reads “YOURSELF.” I recently replicated it using resin and it hangs in my studio as a constant reminder. This has become my most requested and universal piece.  An incredibly powerful message to all the women out there!

Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?

Oh, wow… that is a great question. 

I would have to say a large piece encrusted with aquamarine and quartz, a piece I called “Maldives.”  I used the colors I love most and let my hands work freely as I dreamt about how beautiful a place it must be. The process was so fluid and yet complex, detailed yet simple to the eye, almost 3D.  I made this piece during the onset of Corona and I remember thinking that I REALLY needed a vacation at that trying time.

What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?

I hope I can leave a footprint in the world of art. My dreams and aspirations are to see my works hanging and inspiring all who see them. 

Where can we find your work? 

You can find me on….



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Phone/Text: (917) 494-1111

Photos: Courtesy of Rochelle Garrison

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