Lila Rohrer
  • Victor
  • interviewed 10-7-1998
  • painting, mixed media
  • email

about the artist

Lila Borg Rohrer was born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1929, and lived there for nine years, then in Massachusetts for a couple of years, and from then on in Victor, Iowa. She is the oldest child, and has a sister and a half-brother. After two years working for airline reservations in Kansas City, she returned to Iowa and married her high school sweetheart.

She received a B.A. in Art, with a minor in English, from the University of Iowa in 1962. She received an M.A. in Art Education from the University of Iowa in 1968. She is married and has three daughters. She primarily works in water mediaŚwatercolor, ink, collage.


  • Alt Gallery, Cedar Rapids
  • Weiderspan Gallery, Cedar Rapids
  • The Amana Art Gallery, West Amana



artwork | audio | statement | galleries


Sue's Garden © Lila Rohrer | All Rights Reserved

October 10th © Lila Rohrer | All Rights Reserved

Tranquility © Lila Rohrer | All Rights Reserved

Daybreak © Lila Rohrer | All Rights Reserved

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artist statement

My work is apolitical: I offer the images and the viewer makes the story.

I feel that what I have to give the world of art is energy and spontaneity. If the work allows, I also work a bit of whimsy into paintings or collages. I consider myself a designer, whether pouring inks, brushing color or making collages. I combine disparate found images with prepared and oriental papers and, sometimes, words from ads. My favorite reappearing guy is my bungee jumper and Zeus, who pitches the sun into place.

Because I taught for many years, I was inhibited by students who were product-oriented. Now, I'm retired, so stand back.


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Art & Writing

I was a lot more interested in writing. I always, always knew I wanted to be a writer, and got a little sidetracked. We didn't have art in high school. But because of accidents and illness, I went into art. When I first got to the farm and didn't understand anything, I stepped out in front of a tractor and had a compound fracture in my leg, which was a very serious one and had to be broken and reset. I was laid up for quite awhile, so I started drawing, and I loved horses. And people responded to them quite well.

I've straddled the two arts. But there's a lot of overlap. You find a lot of musicians are artists, and a lot of poets. Either you see the drama or you don't. And they're just different vehicles—words or pictures, just different vehicles.

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My art

My art is spontaneous, and it has to be spontaneous. I love surprises. I work on large paper, and then if it all doesn't work, I harvest it down to a smaller area. I love what happens with watercolor and the soft edges and when they blend. I like the incompatibility of materials, because they'll create some pretty exciting little sparkles. I do realistic florals, but I do those in a different way, too. I will pick up a flower and look at it and work on it on my paper, and then I'll pick up another one. Mine grow, they aren't stuck in a vase—most of them—and I work out the design as I go along.

I'm having a wonderful time with monoprints right now. I've worked out a different method of working that I'm really enjoying. It's full of surprises. I love collage work, too. And watercolor, you could spend a whole lifetime and never conquer it, and I like that. I like that challenge.

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It's a real upper to have something work for you. And then it's wonderful when it's accepted. I compare selling a painting to giving a kitten away—you want it to go where it's appreciated and to a good home.

Now this one woman got quite hostile. She said, "Just admit it, you were lucky. Just admit it." And I thought, "Now, I'm going to have to ask her to leave my booth, or I'm going to have to leave." Because how can you argue with that? But finally, this little guardian angel sitting on my shoulder whispered in my ear, and I said, "You know, the more I work, the luckier I get." Now some sports figure said that—the more I practice, the luckier I get. But I was sure glad those words were on the end of my tongue.

Because I'm resilient and a pretty stubborn lady, I just go back to it. But you know, you have to be. You have to stand for something. And you can call it tenacity or stubbornness or whatever.

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Stand back

I'm retired, so stand back! I have work to do in my studio. I do a monthly newsletter that I love doing. And I enter poetry contests. You know, what more is there? And I have three healthy daughters and five grandkids. I have a beautiful life.

I hope to work till I die. I hope to be like the Amish lady, to die with a quilt in the frame. I plan to have an unfinished painting.

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