About the Artist

Artist Statement

 

Rachel Mello

photo credit: Christine Andrade

I find myself increasingly sensitive to the interdependence of very separate lives.
Raw materials, information, and waste move around the world in a constant flow, and through this inescapable global exchange we come to understand that there is also a critical importance in the local, the community, and the personal.

At its heart, my work is about sense of place: how a house is a home, how a group of homes is a neighborhood; what it’s like to live and dream in cities. There’s that feeling of walking quietly down a street seeing how it all comes together. There’s familiarity and discovery, appreciation and recording of details, daydreaming and longing. The number of utility lines coming into a house give you hints about how many families live there. What are their lives? The roofs, windows, antennas, trees and wires weave a story. It’s the implied presence, just out of frame; the traces we make and what we can read in the silent details.

I make these explorations through a range of media, coming back to the same subject matter and the same imagery through the perspectives of different approaches. From my sketchbook, I develop designs for silhouettes which I hand cut or laser cut from hardboard, or water-jet cut from steel and then paint in oils or enamels. These pieces cast shadows and root the experience of the illusional space in the immediate present.

Sometimes the same forms and elements reappear in a series of silk-screen, lithograph, or prints of other processes, so I can look at the idea through a different lens. Recently I’ve built myself a small pinhole camera and am just beginning to build a relationship with the hazy, dreamy, elements that its imperfections bring out in my observations on 35mm film and all its grainy beauty.

My work is a series of passionate letters to cities: I love you, warts and all. Cities are the truth about who we are when we come together, and before any planner or developer can make make them “better,” there first must be truly seeing what this means with an open appreciation.

While I have a deep love for nature, my home has always been in the city. I am deeply touched by communities of people, by the choices we make to find ways of living with and near strangers, and how we connect to and separate ourselves from our neighbors, the natural world, and ourselves.

 

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