Jule Rotenberg - Meet a Scientologist
On January 12, 2011, Meet a Scientologist Jule Rotenberg gave an interview on WQUB-FM 90.3, a NPR radio station broadcasting in Missouri, Illinois and Iowa.
Mandy (Host of Gallery): Coming up next about our “All About Faith Matters” special here on Gallery tonight is a young sculptor from California who’s also a Scientologist. My guest Jule Rotenberg explains her art and how it is affected through her faith. That interview is coming up next, here on Gallery.
Mandy: We mainly see portrait works, like a bust of someone or a full figure of someone in your work.
Jule: Mainly, I do like masks, because I like faces, I think faces are expressive and I have a series of masks that I want to expand on. But mainly my work is full figures, not busts so much.
Mandy: Interesting, so are you the sort of artist that has a model in the studio or are you going by portraits?
Jule: I think in an ideal world I would have a model in my studio but I don’t. I typically start from my imagination and then if I need a model I bring one in for a session, maybe take some photos and work from the photos, just as reference. But I don’t really want my work to be illustrative. I like the process of working from my imagination, also allowing myself to maybe exaggerate the musculature, lengthen it, just for effect. Also I prefer that creative process.
Mandy: So you mention you’re influenced by dancing, movement, all those things and since you’re a Scientologist obviously that plays into your art. How has it affected or changed your sculpting process?
Jule: Good question. I think that Scientology for me is such a basic. It has helped me understand myself and others and also my ability to communicate. By communication I mean a very broad communication which would include perception of the physical universe and my ability to confront life. So I think what it has done, on a personal level as an artist, it has helped me perceive and translate and also capture life. I find that, through my study of Scientology, that my work has become more alive. I can´t really explain how that is, but I get more responses from people. That my work is like: “Oh it looks like its living,” “it looks like it's alive;”. That is my main purpose really. I really want to imbue the cold solidity of the metal of bronze with a life, a livingness.
Mandy: Jule tell me, what was your faith like before you became a Scientologist?
Jule: Well, I started studying Scientology when I was seventeen. I really had a hard time on a practical level communicating and a hard time looking at people, looking into their eyes and being able to articulate my thoughts, in words. And I had a hard time dealing with my parents at that time. I think that may have been just being a teenager, but also who I was. I have great parents, they were great then, but I wanted to go be an artist, they didn’t really want me—my mom in particular was concerned, she wanted me to be a very independent woman which is a good thing. But she didn’t want me to go be an artist because I think she was afraid I wouldn’t survive very well as an artist. So, life can be tough sometimes and Scientology has given me the tools to help better my own life and the conditions around me.
Mandy: And now that your mom has seen some of your art work, that it’s more alive, I imagine that you’re a successful artist out there in Los Angeles, has her response changed?
Jule: Absolutely. And it changed along the way, she’s extremely supportive, she has several of my sculptures and some of my drawings and my paintings, I do some of that as well; but she’s extremely supportive and she comes out for my art exhibits and we’re very good friends now. It’s been a number of years and I know I’ve changed and our relationship has changed for the better for sure.
Mandy: That’s great. And here is the big question that I’m really curious about: what exactly does Scientology believe?
Jule: Scientology is very interesting because there is no dogma. It is more the religious philosophy and a technology. Although it approaches man as a spiritual being, some of the tenets involved are that Man is a spiritual being and he has a body and he has a mind. I really like that approach, that speaks to me. But as far as what Scientology is all about. There is a lot to Scientology and it is all contained in books. You can find them in any public library, actually. Basically Scientology just provides a technology for people to understand themselves and understand others how they tick. It helps you with communication and it helps you with interpersonal relations. Those are the basic tools of Scientology.
Mandy: Okay, and what’s the stance on the afterlife?
Jule: As a Scientologist, I can tell you from my perspective as a Scientologist that my afterlife will be another life. I am a spiritual being and I won’t die. My body will die but I will continue on and I will, for lack of a better word, pick up another body and continue life. That is my belief of the afterlife.
Mandy: So it is more or less reincarnation, life here again on this earth or life in another realm?
Jule: I think reincarnation can also involve coming back in a higher life form, like starting as an ant and moving to a cricket and moving up the ladder, so to speak, that way and that’s not so much what I think; I think that I just come back and have another human body.
Mandy: Interesting. And since I am in part of the “bible belt,” I know a lot about Christianity and you hear concepts like “sin” and “grace.” Does Scientology deal with any of those concepts, with sin and things like that?
Jule: Absolutely it does, and it does in that sin.. Let’s see, how can I put this? In Scientology, there is a way to address the things that you have done that you don’t feel good about, things—that you’ve done, sins, you’ve committed sins. But there is a way in Scientology to confront what you have done and take responsibility for that, then turn things around. In doing that you are able to expand and sort of redeem yourself. So, there is something similar to a confessional that you would have in a Catholic situation, there is something similar in Scientology and it’s the same concept where you want to, cleanse yourself of any wrong doing, but also with the element of taking responsibility for it and thereby expanding on a spiritual level. So it’s very much in alignment with other religions, it just sort of helps augment other people’s beliefs.
Mandy: Okay, thanks. That gives me a kind of clear perspective on it because, I know, we hear more and more about Scientology of course from famous actors like Tom Cruise and there’s a lot of misconceptions about what it is and what it isn’t, are you confronted with some of those misconceptions, Jule?
Jule: Oh I don’t know, not on a personal level at all, people know I’m a Scientologist. They know me and they know I’m a Scientologist. There is a great deal of tolerance and understanding, maybe more so in Los Angeles because it may be more prevalent and people, just on a personal level, know more Scientologists. I am aware of the fact that there’s a lot of misconceptions about Scientology and I think for anyone who’s interested or even just is curious or wants to, “huh?”, they hear something and it just doesn’t make any sense, you know and there’s a lot of that. I know because I’ve been a Scientologist for most of my life and I hear these things and I’m like “what?”, “what?!” you know? But for anyone who does have that experience the thing to do is just to go pick up a book at a public library and read it for themselves and decide for themselves.
Mandy: Exactly. Well, Jule we’re running out of time a little bit here but I want to say thanks for coming and talking to me about Scientology and for people who are more interested in your art and its unique perspective, where can they find a website, where they can view samples of this?
Jule: Oh great, yeh, I do have a website. It’s RotenbergSculpture.com.
Mandy: Alright, thanks again. And my guest is Jule Rotenberg, thanks again Jule.
Jule: Thank you.