FEATURED ARTIST: Rachel Goldsmith
I like it spicy. My favorite Indian restaurant offers mild, medium & hot levels of spice. But, those with the inside track also know they offer the Indian version of mild, medium & hot. I am pretty good with Indian medium. On braver days I can handle Indian hot. But, the actual heat this summer is wearing me out. I’m not normally a heat whiner–until now. Every degree over 90 results in my doing everything just a little slower–as though my shoes are melted to the ground. But then, I received this fantastic Featured Artist contest entry that allowed me to shift focus and enjoy the beauty and brightness of summer–without all the hot sauce.
This month’s artist offers us an evolving view of process and how it informs content. Her work explores the contrast between organic forms and the plasticity of production. Artandartdeadlines.com is proud to claim Rachel Goldsmith as this month’s Featured Artist. This work is intricate and soft, yet hard and industrial. It is beautiful and thoughtful and puzzling. And then there’s the dumplings and cereal…and hot sauce.
Rachel Goldsmith is a NY-based artist who works primarily with PLA plastic, water-based paints on canvas & permanent ink on paper. She received her Bachelor of Arts & Fine Arts Degrees from Univ. of Michigan & her Masters of Art & Design Education Degree from Pratt Institute. Rachel taught middle school Visual Arts in NYC from 2007-2012. In addition to several “Best in Show” awards, Goldsmith was commissioned by the inventors of the 3Doodler to create a piece for MoMA Design Store. Her work, including her Fabergé Big Egg, is included in various private collections.
Has the 3-D pen been a trial & error process or have you had instruction from another artist, creator, or school? “The 3Doodler has been 100% self-taught. I received the pen in March 2014 –early in their production, a few weeks after completing Ova Obsessive for the Faberge Big Egg Hunt. I had been drawing 12-20 hours a day for 6 weeks. I was done with drawing for a little while, so the timing was fortuitous. I immediately used the 3Doodler on canvas—that is what seemed natural to me. And I was instantly obsessed with the possibilities. The more I used it, the more I loved it – and still, to this day, I am discovering new techniques and developing new ideas for its use.
or Beautiful Oops.
“I love having to react to the material – to adjust what I’m doing based on what the material does. Any pieces that feel like “errors” just have to be worked further or in a different way – scissors, heat gun, iron, spray paint, wire, and/or more plastic. I titled one piece Frankenstein because of how many times it was cut apart and put back together in a different form.”
Why PLA over ABS plastic? “Since day one I have preferred PLA. It is corn-based as opposed to petroleum based, so it doesn’t smell noxious. That’s my main reason. Additionally, I find the PLA easier to work with because it sticks to itself very easily and it hardens a bit slower then the ABS, so you have a moment to adjust the extrusion with your fingers or other tools.”
Talk to me about the 3-D printing pen. Does form inspire content or does content require that you figure out how to make the pen conform? Again my answer is both–it depends. When 3Doodler asked me to create a lamp for their MoMA Design Store display, I had to figure out how to make the plastic into a lamp – before that, I’d been working on canvas or other flat surfaces – balance and strength were the key factors that I had to work around. Most of the time however, my work is material driven. I gain inspiration from my environment – especially the contrasts between natural and man-made – and I often allow the materials drive my creating.
I am fascinated by the contrast between the control I have over the materials and what the materials do on their own. Again, this creates a situation for me to react and respond to my work. I think this is another reason that I fell in love with the original 3Doodler. The pen has a little bit of a mind of it’s own – so I constantly have to react to how the pen extrudes the plastics, even if it is not exactly what I thought I wanted it to do. New possibilities of what I can do with plastics keep popping into my head and keep driving my creations – adding wire, or using an iron or using the heat-gun or layering like I’m weaving or painting or drawing on the plastic or moving very slowly or fast. It is endless. I need another set of hands to keep up with my brain.
Tell me about the contrast between organic forms and synthetic materials. “Contrasts, in general, fascinate to me. I think it is a coincidence that I’m using plastic to create organic forms – though I love that a viewer can find meaning in my work based on this contrast. Or perhaps subconsciously I love the 3Doodler because of that contrast. I will point out though, that the PLA is corn-based. Is it still considered synthetic? (*I think it is fair to call it synthesized, at least.) Again, my work is hugely inspired by the contrasts between man-made and nature – working with plastic to create organic forms seems like a perfect way to represent that contrast.”
Most artists have something to say—something they are trying to get across to viewers. I am fascinated by the contrast of the playful versus an almost robotic feel. “I’ve discussed this a lot lately, with slight discomfort. For me the process of creating the work is the reason for creating the work. The movement of my hand hypnotizes me, acting as a focus point for meditation–I use the same movements in drawing, 3Doodling and Painting. Also, the necessary reaction to the media engages me with ongoing challenges. In the end I want the pieces to appeal to my aesthetic senses. I want people to enjoy looking at the work as much as I do. If the viewer sees a statement about contrasts, great; if the viewer sees a statement about the environment, great. But, I’m not creating nor exhibiting with any agenda in mind.” *Refreshingly, and shockingly honest. Bravo.
Talk to me about the two artists (one living, one dead) that have most influenced your work and why. “Sorry, you are getting 3. Dale Chihuly is my favorite contemporary artist. I am nearly obsessed with watching videos of him at work. I am captivated by his process and inspired by his use of color and material, both glass and paint. The forms he creates are direct results of the motion of his hand, arm and wrist, a motion over which he has impressive control. His blown glass and drawings look as if they have grown from the ocean and are still suspended in the currents of the water.
“Bill Komoski is one of many abstract painters that I could list as a favorite. He creates works that are just about looking. Like many of my pieces, his paintings are map-like—organized yet chaotic. Similar to Chihuly, his work evokes a feeling of fluidity and weightlessness. And, I draw a tremendous amount of inspiration from Ernst Haeckel. His ‘Artforms in Nature’ documents my obsession with organic forms. It illustrates the scientifically stringent aspects of nature that ordinarily seem disorganized and random.”
What is your favorite food addiction? It IS a food-themed blog after all. “Hot sauce–especially Cholula. I am addicted to and allergic to cheese. I miss it everyday that I don’t make myself sick from it. And I LOVE veggie dumplings, yum! But, I will always choose sweet over savory.” *Allergic to cheese would be the death of me. Truly.
What is your favorite snack food obsession? “Cinnamon Toast Crunch with almond milk or soy milk and non-ice cream–stupid allergies force me to stick to sorbet, popsicles & non-dairy frozen treats.”
What’s coming up next for you? “I would like to learn more about textiles, as so much of what I’m creating looks like it is made from fabric not plastic. Also, I hope to create some mobiles as I love the shadows produced by the plastics and I love how light looks shining through the plastics – mobiles might be the perfect way to display this kind of work. I’ve only just begun researching mobiles. I can feel myself teetering on the edge of something amazing. It is a really strange feeling because I’m not sure what’s coming down the pipeline, but I’m certain something big is going to burst out really soon. It is exciting, bizarre, and a little embarrassing to admit. I think it involves mixing media. We will see.”
“I’ve never felt like this before.”
Rachel, don’t you dare be embarrassed. Your honesty and openness have made my heart smile. I sift through a lot of stock answers and standard bios and stagnant art-speak statements. You have renewed my faith that I can still have exciting, insightful conversations about art. Thank you for that–and the work…