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Biography

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Education
B.F.A. in painting and drawing, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois,1993
Slade School of Fine Art, London, England, 1991 -1992
Courtauld School of Art History, London, England 1991 -1992
M.A. in English, Colorado State Univeristy, Fort Collins, Colorado, 2004
 
 
Influences
Painting: Edvard Munch, Henri Matisse,  Richard Diebenkorn, David Park
Conceptual/Performance Art: Joseph Kosuth, John Cage, Yves Kein, Joseph Beuys
Earth Works: Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt
Development
 

I've been drawing for as long as I can remember.  My mother saved so much of it. And so have I.  The drawings I did in college are stashed away in dusty portfolios in my basement.  And except for the few I've hung in my own home or given to friends and family, the paintings are stacked against a wall.  I never knew what to do with all of them. I just wanted to make art. Now that I've gotten some experience building websites, though, and eBay makes it so easy to sell anything and everything, I thought Why not sell my work online

 

So, I figured if you're thinking of buying my art, you may want to know a few things about me.  As I mention above, I studied art at Millikin University where I fell in love with figure drawing.  Those unashamed models of all shapes and sizes were great teachers of self-acceptance, and in rendering them I learned to love my own body and the astounding beauty of the female form in all its varieties.   

 

During this time of formal study I received both the Outstanding Freshman and Outstanding Senior Artist awards. My junior year I had the good fortune of receiving a scholarship to study literature and art in London, England.

 

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Rachel in her studio

This year abroad combined with my study of the iconoclastic art of the twentieth century hurtled me into a conceptual space I had never yet explored. I became obsessed with the work of artists of the 1960's, who, influenced by Eastern philosophies flooding into the west at that time, had completely blurred the distinction between art and living, between product and process, sacred and secular.  These ideas resonated deeply with me; I wanted to play with them.

 

To this end, I completed my senior art exhibit of what for me were very experimental, personally mythological paintings (the Between series) and monotypes, as well as a gallery-sized conceptual art piece that served as an honors thesis called Art Is: A Philosophy of Art and Everything. Much to the disgust of a couple traditional art instructors at the school, I randomly wallpapered an entire gallery with handwritten or typed sheets of writings by myself and other artists and philosophers. Between the panels of worded walls I placed framed mirrors and empty pedestals labeled as a series of self-portraits.  I wanted my gallery guests to look in a mirror or sit on a pedestal in order to get a sense of themselves as works of art, to recognize the ways we create ourselves and each other in our interaction. I wanted to blur the boundary between art, artist, and art observer. I was told it worked.  Some folks thought I was nuts, but many were intrigued, and I enjoyed presenting this piece to my gallery guests.

 

By this point I had essentially talked myself out of pursuing fine arts anymore because I truly had come to believe art doesn't have to hang on a wall or sit in a gallery to be fine art.  Everything, and by the same token, nothing, is art.  It was a surreal, thrilling, groundless time.  I graduated Summa Cum Laude, put away my art materials, and bought a huge, sturdy backpack.

 

From this time on, my life became one long, uncommissioned, unframed Happening, you know, one of those juicy, messy, process- and life-oriented events that artists began making back in the 1960's when the boundaries between art and life, between art and everything, really, began to blur.  In other words, I've had a lot of fun and very little money.  I did some outrageous things, sure, but mostly from the outside my life probably looked pretty normal for a 20-something. The difference was in how I perceived it, in my attention.

 

I wanted to live my entire life with the attention I gave to making or viewing a painting. I figured that was the whole point of being an artist anyway: learning to really see... to give each moment of living your complete, awestruck attention...to create every moment with simultaneous skill and spontaneity.  But old habits die hard, as they say, and I still found myself wanting to document my vision in some way. It's an old attachment.

 

So I looked hard, lived in beauty, and wrote a lot: my other lifelong passion. Unfortunately when the longing for the smell of paint and turpentine started in me again, I couldn't afford to replace my toolbox full of oils and brushes that had gotten stolen from a storage unit a few years before.  I was disappointed, but shrugged it off... took it as a sign that I truly was done with studio art.  Even so, I still showed my paintings in Colorado coffee houses from time to time, with some good reviews.  I've also created various earth works in which I use materials of the natural world as my medium and the outdoors as my gallery.  My most recent work is a labyrinth herb and vegetable garden, and throughout my home I've arranged various collections of sacred statuary and natural objects that I like to think of as altar art. When I arrange these works, and ponder them as I move from room to room in daily life, they give me power. They are mandalas. They change me.

 

Paintless, I kept writing, and because an artist of Life still has to eat and feed the family, I enrolled in the Colorado State University English Department, after which I hoped to find someone to commission my "Happening" as a teacher.  I taught college writing for a few years, earned a Master's degree in English Education, got married, gave birth to a daughter in a hospital, got divorced, remarried a musician/teacher/poet, gave birth to a son under a tree on a mountain with a midwife, and, having become my own midwife, another son into my own hands on a hardwood floor.  These three children are masterpieces.  After spending many years at home --schooling ourselves by following our bliss and co-creating each other-- we are now undertaking a new adventure as a family. The kids are attending public school, and I am teaching writing, literature, oil painting and humanities fulltime at the local community college.

 

As I learned early on in life, words are the world's cheapest paint, and they became my chosen medium for rendering my experiences as a birthing mother. I wrote the birth stories of my sons and published them online to help other women realize their own magnificence as birthing women, to inspire them to bring life into the world on their own terms, rather than having the sacred Happening of birth dictated by institutional, fear-based "norms."  Since their online debut in 1999, my writings have also been published in the book: Journey into Motherhood

 

It is my hope that by extending my work with women into the field of visual art, more women will come to know and appreciate the true beauty and power of their bodies, no matter the shape or size, no matter the phase of life: maiden, mother, or crone.

 

And that's the condensed version of what I've been up to since art school. 

 

A beloved old friend recently commissioned me to do a painting, and I suddenly find myself with a supply of oil paint, graphite and charcoal.  Reading the tubes of oil hanging in the display case at the store, I felt my throat tighten with sentimental recognition....there were the names of my old friends: Phthalo Blue, Raw Umber, Ivory Black and Cadmium Red.  A dozen others.  It was a tender reunion.

 

So, please, help me empty out my basement.  Allow me to create a piece for you.  Commission my Happening.  In this particular episode, I am painting and drawing again. 

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