Hi Rachel! We know that you’re travelling in Italy…Where are you now?
Currently I am living in Rome. Although, I have been traveling too. I recently spent a weekend in Florence, and will be going to Sicily shortly. I am also planning trips to Greece and Spain.
You’re studying painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. When did you realize you wanted to be a painter?
I don’t think I actually ever experienced a moment when I consciously decided that I wanted to be a painter. My grandfather was an artist, so from a very young age I was encouraged to be creative. Painting became second nature to me, so when it came time to decide where I wanted to go to college, I knew that I needed to pursue an art degree.
We noticed your project “Transcendence” on Kickstarter and it caught our attention. Tell us something about it…
The Installation comes from a culmination of research that I have been conducting for about a year now. Last winter, when I stumbled upon a portrait of a woman stabbing herself in the heart I immediately knew that this was a subject matter I wanted to address. Upon doing initial research I found that the subject of the painting, Lucretia, had been raped and then committed suicide out of shame. I also found that there are endless depictions of her rape and her suicide. In addition, she was not the only woman to be depicted the moment when an act of violence is being committed against her. So I began to make work that addressed the marginalization of historical women, and the way that our society often refuses to acknowledge the suffering being depicted. Recently, I began looking into the modern-day victimization of women. I aspire to merge the worlds of the historic and the contemporary, ultimately helping the viewer appreciate female victims and survivors in a new light.
“I aspire to merge the worlds of the historic and the contemporary, ultimately helping the viewer appreciate female victims and survivors in a new light.”
How did you come up with the idea of the installation?
The installation seemed like a logical next step in the progression of the subject matter. Since I aim to expose the viewer to a new way of seeing, my work needs to be immersive. My desire to create a complete and independent space for the work to exist in, naturally led me to the idea of doing an installation. When I came to Rome, I knew that I wanted to build some sort of structure, but it was only when I began to see the ornamentation of the churches and villas that I realized exactly how the installation needed to function.
“I began to make work that addressed the marginalization of historical women, and the way that our society often refuses to acknowledge the suffering being depicted.”
Are you going to build it alone or do you have a team?
I will paint the installation on my own, however I am enlisting help from colleuges when it comes to construction of the walls. I will also be asking a friend to help me produce a video of the finished installation.
Does Rome have a particular meaning for this installation, or could it be any other city? How did the Eternal City inspire you?
I have always looked to art history for inspiration, and the fact that the current subject matter of my work, which refers to paintings and sculptures completed in the renaissance, it made sense for me to come here. In addition to the arts, I also have been looking at many cathedrals here in Rome. I have also been researching the idea of scripted space. A scripted space is a curated environment that dictates what the viewer experiences. Cathedrals are one of the premiere examples of scripted spaces, and visiting the spaces in person is so much more impactful than seeing images of them. There is no way to replicate the feeling of structural power and immense revelation that you feel when you enter a scripted space, like the Chisea del Gesù, which is a short walk away from where I live in Rome.
Since you are in Italy, is there any particular Italian artist you are looking at lately?
There are a multitude of Italian artists I draw inspiration from. Of course I love artists from the Renaissance cannon, such as Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Raphael. However I have also found inspiration from less celebrated names. For instance, when I visited Florence a couple weekends ago, I was able to spend an entire day in the Uffizi Gallery. The museum houses one of my favorite paintings, “Judith Slaying Holofernes” by Artemisia Gentileschi. Before completing this work she was raped by her tutor. In the painting she depicts herself as Judith, and her attacker as Holofernes. Artemisia Gentileschi is a big inspiration to me as an artist, and I strive to create a similar emotional impact with my own work.
Next step after this project?
Right now I am fully occupied by the installation, and have not been thinking about what will come next. I expect that on the completion of the project, I will find myself confronted with new questions, which I will need to answer. I will be returning to RISD as a senior, so my thesis is to come.