I'm thrilled to present the mixed media collage work of Rachael Grant exhibiting in Fratelli's Cafe Gallery, this month of February. There are two weeks left to come see all seven pieces in person, so come have a look! Read on to learn more about her process in an exclusive MBG artist interview...
About Materials: In the beginning, did you have a love of making collages and were always seeking printed source material or was it a love of the printed imagery you were finding that led you to want to make collages?
Rachael Grant: I have always been drawn to bits and artifacts of paper. I made collages cut from old photos for my mom when I was a kid. I kept pretty candy wrappers and old notes to make little collages for my friends. In the studio, I have boxes of maps, found drawings, and book pages...and while I still incorporate some of these materials into my work, I have started to kind of curate my source materials a little bit more. I found myself always searching through my boxes for natural forms like birds, plants, and butterflies. I found that collecting old nature books was a much better way to get more of the type of imagery I was after. As my taste in materials has grown more specific and refined, it has allowed me to find a more clear focus in my collage work.
On Content: Is the imagery that you want to make in your mind first and then you hunt specific illustrations to collage ...or are the final pieces inspired from the printed illustrations you are able to find, allowing serendipity to have a huge role in what you create?
Rachael Grant: I normally start a new piece with a very general compositional idea of the kind of colors and subject matter I want to focus on, then I start to search for and cut out forms that I think could work in the piece. I might spend a day or two cutting and when I feel I have enough forms, I start to play around with the arrangements. I typically try to arrange the forms tightly together in such a way that there is some sort of harmonious movement. As the composition starts to take shape, some of the pieces I've cut get tossed aside for other projects and I go back to the books to find the shapes I need to complete the composition. I go back and forth in this process until the composition gels and feels right to me.
The future: I know you are a wonderful art teacher at the Maria Montessori School guiding the children in many mediums, including fine art and craft materials...from photography to ceramics, painting, sculpture and more. Do you feel that your medium will continue to be collage-based incorporating gouache paint, or will you use other mediums to keep exploring your imagery and subject matter?
Rachael Grant: I love teaching kids and feel so fortunate to work with them in the beautiful and creative environment of the Maria Montessori School. As an artist, teaching art to children has been an integral part of my own artistic growth. Kids have a direct and uninhibited approach to art making that never fails to inspire me. Another benefit to working with children (as you mentioned) is that it forces me to work with lots of different art media which keeps me thinking about art in new ways all the time. In the new body of work I have begun, I am continuing in a similar style of collage, but I am also planning to bring in a ceramic element celebrating the same sort of natural forms featured in my collages.
About the artist:
Rachael Grant is a collage artist and illustrator who works and lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband and two children.She has always collected old books, postcards, lost notes, and found bits of paper. Rachael uses these artifacts to create mixed-media collages. Her most recent work celebrates the beauty of natural forms.Rachael was The Brooks Museum 2014 nominee for the Emmett O'Ryan award for Artistic Inspiration. Her work was also featured in last year's Number, Inc. Art of the South Exhibit
About the work:
"As an artist, I strive to create visual representations of basic human emotions, those palpable feelings that we all share, but can not usually be visualized in a direct way. I have found that by combining natural forms like trees, birds, and plants in mixed-media collage I am able to create images that convey a familiar sense of loneliness, empowerment, exuberance, and vulnerability. I pull inspiration from people and nature, but I am particularly inspired by the place where people and nature meet and become entangled. For me, that is the place where raw feeling becomes most evident. That is the place I explore in my work. " - Rachael Grant
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