“I am a Renaissance woman, iconoclast and professional artist. As a vital seventy year old, I’m currently pursuing a professional art career after completing an academic teaching career. My work is heavily influenced by time spent in West Africa and the study of the African Diaspora in the Americas. That being said, I’m constantly thinking about the importance of diversity in culture and the necessity of such cultural growth.
My work is an accumulation of my experiences and thoughts. As a result, bits and pieces of iconography, anthropology and asymmetry fill my art. My current studio theme is acknowledging the joy in diversity through abstract art.”
Current: RME Art Studio & Gallery, Murphysboro School of Art, Murphysboro Illinois-Principal
Previous: Southern Illinois University, James Madison University, University of Missouri-
Kansas City, Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts
2005 Ph.D., Interdisciplinary, Art History, History, University of Missouri-Kansas City
1999 M.A., Art History University of Missouri-Kansas City
1996 B.F.A, Painting Kansas City Art Institute
1994 Art and Design Johnson County Community College
Post Doctoral Education
2007 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, University of Virginia
Recent Art Exhibits and Competitions:
Feb 4-March 21: Women’s Voices: The Need to Create, SIUC University Museum
Jan 21 Ann Metzger Memorial National Biennial
Juror: Hanna Klemm, Asst Curator Modern and Contemporary Art St. Louis Art
Feb 8th –March 20: Sojourn Varsity Center for the Arts Exhibit, Solo Show
April 30-June 30: Perspective Longbranch Coffee House Gallery, Solo Show
June 2: Kansas City Art Institute Alumni Show and Auction
July 21 – August 20: Play Hartley Gallery and Event Center, Herrin Illinois, Solo Show
July 28th – Oct 6: 28th Cedarhurst Biennial, Cedarhurst
Juror: Wassan Al-Khudhari, Chief Curator Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis
December 2019 Studio Visit Magazine, Volume 45
Juror: Michael Lash, Director of Chicago Public Arts
Can you tell us a little about how you got to where you are now?
Rachel: Wow! Big question! It’s taken me twenty-nine years for all my various influences to come together in the work I make today. However, I recently realized my work is very similar as in the beginning regarding inspiration and impetus. I used to paint realism (trained by my mother and grandmother) and wanted to move to abstraction but was clueless as to how. I returned to college -Kansas City Art Institute- in painting to move to abstract work. Lester Goldman my painting teacher was instrumental in teaching me to study form and move to abstraction from there. I began studying, researching and drawing organic forms such anemones eventually achieving my own forms with the same fluid qualities. I also made these forms in 3 d from the drawings and back and forth. While in graduate school I studied African textiles and symbols which showed up in my work. I opened my studio in 2012 and began a study of microbes. I use these forms today to address cultural issues and the importance of cultural diversity.
How would you define your visual style?
Rachel: Organic abstraction.
What are you inspired by? Where do you go for inspiration? Color, geographic regions, art movements?
Rachel: My Inspiration comes from multiple sources nature, textiles, and artist’s works. I really enjoy looking at other artists’ works, globally. Henry Moore is a great inspiration. Gillian Ayres and Frank Stella are both big sources of inspiration. Kandinsky, Gees Bend quilters, African sculpture, textiles, and writing and ideology.
What are some of the artists that you admire?
How important do you think it is for creatives to develop their knowledge of visual culture?
Rachel: It’s absolutely necessary to know your field and other players, contemporary and historical. I’m also an art historian and so I have deep sources to draw upon. That being said, vernacular culture is filled with visual cues that imply the state of color, form and the human condition. It’s a constant struggle to keep informed on cultural trends and issues. That doesn’t mean we like what we see and in my case, I don’t particularly care for homogenization and rigidity. I’m inspired by the asymmetry of culture and find it the most important of elements for the success of human culture today.
Can you describe your process of receiving the inspiration for your art work? Do you receive during the act of creating, prior to creating or in dreams etc? Do you connect (meditate, pray, etc.) prior to creating each piece? Does it come to you randomly or do you have a ritual that helps dial it in?
Rachel: Lol. I wish I was this organized. I study lots of artists’ work and organic forms. I draw every day. I slow myself down to get a focus or clear my head so I can listen to my subconscious. I begin drawing and I make marks as long as I know what marks to make. I stop when I don’t know.
What do you think makes one person an artist and another, not? Do you think our society supports artists, and should it?
Rachel: I don’t hold with the idea there are different types of artists such as fine or outsider artists. I’m greatly influenced by African artists and African American folk artists. Each artist received some sort of training whether it’s by trial and error or through family traditions, or in my case family tradition and then classical training. The only thing that makes art is the intention.
What is your personal motto or a quote that you like or live by?
Rachel: Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with new artists?
Rachel: Make art and just keep making it. You will find your voice through making.