Artist to Watch


Portrait of Camila Varon Jaramillo. Image courtesy of the artist.

NB: What’s your earliest memory of interacting and/or experiencing art?  

CV: When I was little I would come home from school and grab a block of printing paper, sit at the kitchen table, and draw through the entire block. I also remember feeling when I was younger that it wasn’t easy to meet other people or kids that were interested in the same things. Then, when I was thirteen, I visited New York with my mom and she took me to MoMA. I remember looking at some paintings and just being like “Wow! This person sees the sky same way I do!” or “this person sees flowers the same way that I see flowers!” And that sort of made me realize that “these people” were thinking in the same way that I was thinking.

My grandma always painted too. She had a room in her apartment filled with oil paints and paintings of (mostly European) landscapes. Looking back, her paintings were bright, and had a great sense of color.

Camila Varon Jaramillo, Madre, 2023. Acrylic on Silk and Cotton fabric. 30 x 48 inches.

NB: Can you tell us about the themes of space and landscape in your work?  

CV: As a young girl I always knew that I wanted to be an artist, but then I ended up studying architecture. Studying architecture felt like studying anthropology or psychology through space, and not so much physical spatial design. So what I learned was how architecture can affect or respond to people, communities, and places. Therefore over time every space acquires an emotional value, and what this means is that a space can affect you emotionally, it can alter your state of mind, and perhaps even shape who you are. So the surroundings that we chose, and more importantly the respect that we have for them, whether it is a constructed environment or a natural environment, has an immense psychological impact in every aspect of our lives and consequently the world around us.

In terms of landscape specifically, that in itself, is loaded with context because I grew up in Colombia, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. I remember traveling and driving through the mountains, going up and down and around, seeing as the landscapes changed from one place to the other. Colombia has some of the wildest, most beautiful places in nature that I’ve seen, and all of them are extremely different from each other: there’s the Atlantic and the Pacific ocean, the Amazon, the Andes mountains (that splits into three), deserts, valleys and flat plains. At the same time, during the 90’s and 00’s Colombia was very unsafe because of the political situation with guerrillas and narcos, so many of these places were sort of mystical and magical because I grew up hearing about them, but not being able to physically go there, so there was a lot of imagination involved. 

Colombia is much safer today, and my generation is sort of rediscovering these places that we grew up hearing of, and rediscovering our own country. I think this says a lot about the psychology of a generation that is interested in traveling within their own country and to nature rather than to other cities around the world. At a personal level, these paintings are perhaps a way to research and reconcile the fact that I am here, and not there.

Camila Varon Jaramillo, Dos Mil Seiscientos, 2023. Acrylic on Silk and Cotton fabric. 30 x 48 inches.

NB: How does your process, color, and material relate to these themes?  

CV: When I first started to really focus on landscapes, I was trying to work in a way that would resemble how nature works in real life, so I could learn from it: Working with a lot of water, with movement, rhythm, light, and gravity. I think of these as the ‘common denominators’ and ruling elements of every living thing whether it is a landscape, a flower, or a human being. 

While experimenting with textiles, I discovered a silk and cotton fabric that changed the way I used paint and that responded very well to these aspects of nature that I wanted to explore through my work. For example, the fabric allows a lot of light through, and instead of applying paint onto canvas, the fabric absorbs the paint and the color travels to where the surface is most ‘hydrated’. The process is also psychologically more freeing because there’s physically a lot of movement, like being on the floor and working with my hands, letting go of excessive control. These landscapes are created in such a way that they evoke the natural movement of the body, the fluidity of water, the lightness of the material, and the organic shapes that are created through a repetitive rhythm or vibration. All of this energy from the process comes to rest as a painting of a landscape, that then radiates this same energy through an image. 


Camila Varon Jaramillo, The Dancing Force, 2023. Acrylic on Silk and Cotton fabric. 30 x 48 inches.

NB: So what are some books or images that you currently have in your studio?  

CV: There’s all these little messages on the wall that I like to write around reminding me of what’s important. One of them is “do the dance before con amor” which is a reminder to stretch and dance and leave everything out, to put myself in the right state of mind before beginning to work. There’s Georgia O’Keefe, of course. There’s a book that I love that’s called The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton, which speaks about all these themes that we were just talking about and how to build accordingly. There was this one professor of mine at architecture school that once said “a license to build is also a license not to build” and I think of it very often because of the state of the world today and the rate at which we build and destroy.  There’s Fierce Poise, which is Helen Frankenthaler’s biography by Alexander Nemerov, and a little postcard of Alice in Wonderland that my studio neighbor during my MFA at School of Visual Arts gave me because she thought that I was like Alice in Wonderland when I was in the studio.

Camila Varon Jaramillo, Norte del Sur, 2023. Acrylic on Silk and Cotton fabric. 36 x 48 inches.

NB: So what are some projects that you’re most excited about in the future?  

CV: Well, I’m very excited about my first solo show in New York at 89 Greene, the project space curated by Kathy Battista at Signs and Symbols which opens on October 19th. I also have two paintings at a gallery in Chelsea, Tuleste Factory, where I collaborated with a friend of mine who’s a very talented architect Ceren Arslan. It’s like a whole immersive room, there’s these two paintings and it’s so colorful and fun and otherworldly. There may be a few things coming up in December for Miami, and next summer in LA. I’m happy and curious about what’s to come this year after my MFA, and just spending as much time as possible in the studio (or the Met).

Artist to Watch


Alannah Farrell. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by A Klass.

NB: What are some of your earliest memories of art and how do they relate to where you’re at with your practice today?

AF: My mom and matrilineal grandmother are painters, although both sides of the family are creative. My earliest memories were seeing their process, which relates to my paintings today on a technical level, like motor skills and eye-hand coordination. My mother and I have very similar hands. It’s almost witchy. It’s a little freaky. Beyond the technical, I saw their devotional relationship with painting as a place to land, solace in an often relentlessly challenging world, which I learned young and continue to this day.

Growing up around creatives, I also witnessed adversities around the artists’ lifestyle, including financial hardship. My parents didn’t necessarily encourage me to be an artist, they were very realistic and said this life is a struggle and this lifestyle is unpredictable. My mom said I would always run home after school, throw my school shit, probably rip off my clothes, and start making something immediately. Over time, once they saw that there was no stopping me, they became much more encouraging.  

One fond memory is of my Nana, Ginger Fox (Yes, that is her real name, maiden surname), entering her home studio, which was a mess, walls covered in paint and strongly smelling of turpentine. I loved seeing her paintings which often included cats and women, goddess-like and voluptuous, some based on her daughters and grandchildren. It sounds like stereotypical grandma subject matter, but her paintings were weird, wild, and slightly erotic. She’s in a nursing home now, but recently, my mom curated a show of her paintings installed throughout the facility—it brought her and the residents a lot of joy, and they’ve left her work up. I think it’s important not to forget the humanness of art and art-making outside capitalism and the art world. 

Alannah Farrell, Omari (FiDi), 2023. Oil, acrylic, flashe, and spray paint on canvas. 60 x 40 inches.

NB: Can you tell us about the subjects in your paintings? Who are they, and how do you think of painting as a way to share a story or narrative ? 

AF: I met many people I painted when I started doing New York City nightlife in the 2000s, on the fringes of the queer club kid scene. Club kid culture largely died out at that time because people saw it as more of a 90s thing, but I was part of a lingering downtown scene. I recently watched the film “I Hate New York,” which documents (several) trans people in this scene from 2007 to 2017, which is around the same time when I went to those clubs. It wasn’t until that point that I’d met anyone in my life where I was like, “Ohh, these are my people.” So I started working with people I met from those parties, and some of the people I paint now are the younger generation of that scene, an evolution. They’re doing these incredible things in queer and trans nightlife—which seems more prominent and exciting than ever.

And I’ve always been interested in figurative work. Still, I’m cautious about sharing real people’s stories because of the possibility of exploitation, especially if it’s something that the public will consume. I think of the person, and then I think of the potential audience. I think about money exchanged because money is involved, and I’ve concluded that it’s fair to share bits of stories with consent and share the money with the person or people sitting for the painting. 

There is also a fair amount of fantasy to each image, even when working with real people and places. Sometimes I envision a painting almost entirely, even before I meet the person/subject, so ultimately each work becomes ‘auto-fiction’ filtered through my perception. I often think about human emotion and life experiences, and I’m interested in how that changes over time and in learning from other people. We all have complex interiority, and it blows my mind the depth that every person contains that another person can never really know. 

And, of course, many paintings reflect my frustrations, insecurities, sense of humor, or sadness at how pathetic, beautiful, or painful being a human in a body can be.  

Alannah Farrell, X (Pearl Street), 2022. Oil, acrylic, and latex on canvas. 78 × 50 inches.

NB: Could you tell us about the relationship of identity and self expression with the spaces and objects in your paintings?

AF: These spaces are real-life places where the model(s) and I are in. I want to focus on the emotionality and psychology of these spaces, so I aim to balance familiarity and off-kilter anonymity. Even though I have a personal relationship with the cities and rooms I paint, I want them to feel accessible to people who haven’t been to those locations. It’s more about how place, space, and architecture can strongly influence the human psyche. 

In terms of objects and fashion, these usually come from the subjects in the portraiture or self-portraiture. I am selecting certain people who most likely have a particular taste in how they present themselves. All clothing and objects contain coded language about their culture and who creates and consumes it, and those meanings change throughout history and contemporary cultures. My paintings’ objects and ancillary clues, like clothing, speak more to identity than the spaces. Except in those paintings without people, the settings play a more prominent role in expression and story and tend to be more deeply personal.

Alannah Farrell, Downtown (detail), 2021. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 78 x 50 inches.

NB: How does color relate to these themes in your practice? 

AF: Color and lighting are my painting’s primary elements, which sounds weird because I’m working with real humans and places as subject matter. Still, I almost think light and color communicate emotionality the most. I have nostalgic attachments to specific color palettes, which feel intuitive when painting. I don’t even know how to articulate it, but it’s something that I’ve always had a strong emotional reaction to. As a kid, I remember a salmon-pink kindergarten, a public school with very institutional fluorescent lighting in its classrooms. I remember being so disturbed by that lighting, everything bathed in a sallow green and those primitive bulbs buzzing a la horror film. Those sensory elements, especially the visuals, color, and light, made me very distracted and uncomfortable.  

Like train lighting, nobody looks good on the subway. We all know on some level—conscious or not—these mass public spaces and lighting are designed for oppression. They become psychological spaces. And this is how I think of color and light in painting— means to create psychological space and narrative.    

There are photography influences in my paintings too. When I started at Cooper Union, I took half a semester of painting and panicked about surviving financially after school. So I wanted to learn something more technique based, practical, and applicable to the world, outside of just the art world. And I was like, ‘Photography! That makes sense.’ Little did I know that it was on the verge of becoming somewhat obsolete with phones nowadays. But I learned lighting, analog, film, and digital photography, which was helpful because I started getting little gigs in school—I did nightlife photography and assisted photographers in setting up lighting for fashion or commercial shoots. I also had some experience with the modeling world in New York City at that time. I think about how all these different worlds are so complicated on their own, but they’re all now converging through painting.   

Alannah Farrell, Tommy Venus (Bushwick), 2022. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 30 x 40 inches.

NB: What are some projects that you’re excited about in the future?

AF: I’m tremendously excited about attending the Denniston Hill Artist Residency in October. I can’t get over my excitement for that. I’m also happy to reconnect with upstate New York in this new way—Denniston is a sanctuary that’s allowed space to grow for many creative visionaries I admire. It’s an honor to go! So that’s my focus right now. I’m in a hibernation chrysalis back-to-the-drawing-board phase, recovering from two exhausting shows in the past year.  

I’m excited about what’s to come because I want to communicate something I can’t articulate in words or images. But it feels like whatever that is, it’s just under the surface, and I know something new will come out on the other side. Hopefully, it is something I’m proud of and work that communicates with others who see it.

Other than that, I’m in the Armory Show with Anat Ebgi, and a few shows soon open at Alexander Gray and Sean Horton. Both shows address topics I deeply care about and feature work by artists I respect and admire, art heroes like G.B. Jones, Justin Vivian Bond, Hugh Steers, David Byrd, and Peter Gallo.

Between Us

Sept 1st—Oct 15th, 2023

Alexander Gray Associates 

224 Main Street, Garden Level

Germantown, NY 12526, United States

Place — World

Sept 7th—Oct 7th, 2023

Sean Horton

515 West 20th Street, 3rd Fl

New York, NY 10011, United States

Artist to Watch


Katarina Caserman in her studio. Image courtesy of the artist.

NB: What are some of your earliest memories of making art, and how does it relate to your work today?  

KC: I often come back to this specific memory when we were children. We had these notebooks with blank pages  that were called “memory books” and we gave them around to our friends and family so they would draw  something in it and write something like ‘for the memory of Katarina’. I remember my mom one day she  made this drawing of two deers, and back then it was one of the most beautiful drawings I’d seen. I remember I told myself ‘one day I’m gonna be as good as she is at drawing’. So my motivation was just to get as close as I could to my mother’s drawing.  

With time I realized it’s just about practice and sometime around high school, I  got pretty good at realistic drawings by observing things around me and copying them on paper. So these were my earliest memories of making art, trying to match my mental image with what I was drawing on paper. This always brought me comfort and happiness and something that has always made me feel something and luckily for me I was also good at it. 

Now it’s of course very different. For me it’s not enough to just look, and mimic what I’m seeing. It’s more  about ‘what else is there’? It’s not enough to just observe the world around me and then reflect upon it. I aim  to turn inwards, reflect upon that and relate it to the external in order to create alternative structures of the  visible reality. 

Katarina Caserman, Otnasletyeshosch, 2022. Oil on linen, 9.5 x 14 in.

NB: Can you describe the process when you’re starting a new painting, where do you begin? How do you move  through it?  

KC: I’ve attempted to do sketches many times in the past but it’s just not working for me. My body reacts  completely differently in front of a canvas than it does sitting down and making a tiny paper sketch. I lose the  momentum and it feels forced to match the painting to the sketch.  

I usually begin by making a very thin layer of oil paint and then I take it off with a cotton cloth, creating an  image by bringing back the whiteness of the canvas. The very first stages feel more like building or constructing  than solely painting. I let the layers interact with each other, see the direction of different drips and just let the  paint and gravity do its thing and let it sit for a bit. There’s a lot of sitting time involved because I need to be  patient to recognize which trajectory the painting wants to go. I also need to take into consideration that the  painting will change over a span of a couple days because of all the drying and dripping and other micro  chemical processes. So this is how it usually goes, there’s a lot of waiting and observing and reacting upon it  over and over again. 

NB: So it  requires a lot of patience, right?  

KC: Oh yes absolutely, a lot of patience. Especially because there are many things that I do in the painting that are  rather complex and I often forget how difficult they are. It’s quite simple though, complex forms require a high  level of complexity and it’s impossible that you would achieve complex forms with simple solutions.  

Katarina Caserman, Trysémla (Sivi.), 2023. Oil on linen, 47 x 65 in.

NB: Your work exists between opposing themes: it is organized yet chaotic, strange yet familiar, and dynamic yet  still. Can you tell us more about these themes and opposites/binaries in your work? 

KC: I used to say that my work has this notion of the opposite. I’ve been investigating this for over a year, ever since  I came across Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein in which the use of words is so specific in how to describe  certain conditions. For example when she says that the creature is reanimated, it goes from being ‘dead’ to  being ‘undead’. So the creature was neither alive nor dead, it was in the zone of being ‘undead’. It was a  walking contradiction. That just provoked me into thinking about how we can use language in order to expand  the possibilities of the opposite.  

For instance, if I ask ‘what’s the opposite of black?’ the answer would probably be white, which would mean it’s white and nothing else but white. If you say ‘non black’, then it would mean it’s everything but black, giving you more possibilities of what the opposite can be. When I talk about my work I use the proposition of ‘non’, meaning I don’t say there’s order and chaos but rather ‘non-chaos, artificial/non-artificial, movement/non-movement and so on. This sets the paintings in almost a ‘third zone’. I’m playing with the idea of opposites that exist in the same reality, so it has this notion of impossibility, like  with these spaces where you constantly have some sort of a glimpse of light and at the same time a glimpse of  darkness.  

So it’s not about depicting something in particular, or descriptive, but they are setting a mood. When you stand  in front of the painting you are getting primed/ready for the zone that you are about to enter, and this zone is  the painting itself, but there is a specific mood that surrounds the painting.  

Katarina Caserman, Pandora (Sivi.),  2023 . Oil on linen, 112 x 59 in.

NB: How does color relate to these themes in your process?  

KC: It’s very, very, intuitive when it comes to color. At the beginning I don’t overthink it, I use any color that  resonates with me in that moment because I know that the specific color will not determine the outcome. I  usually just like to play with layering and getting different shades that don’t necessarily exist if they were only  on one layer. These are colors you get once you layer one color over the other, in order to get a third one. It’s  the optical mixing of the colors instead of just a physical one. I enjoy playing around with this because it gives  me a unique experience when I’m moving around the painting. It seems as if the painting is changing all the  time due to its multiple layered structure. 

NB: Where are you currently drawing inspiration from? What artists, movies, music are you looking at?  

KC: I’m not being the best artist right now because I don’t think I’m seeing enough art shows and I’m not  intentionally looking at any visual art. On the other hand I am looking at all sorts of things every day because  Instagram exists. I’m also the last person in the world to watch ‘Twin Peaks’ by David Lynch so this is something  I’m currently obsessed with. It feels as if the whole series puts your brain into a dreamlike state so everything  suddenly has a thin layer of ‘Twin Peaks’ over it. 

I used to listen to a lot of music while I painted, and I still do, but now I mainly listen to podcasts or audio  books. I recently realized that music has too strong of an impact on me. It will either make me paint faster, or slower, or evoke memories, which is very distracting. I switched to podcasts and audiobooks because as you follow the story, you’re in an ‘in between zone’ of being present in the painting, yet not fully there. I think of it being similar to how a pianist is when having a performance. When they are playing they are in this ‘flow’ estate where their body is acting instead of their brain.

Katarina Caserman, Sousarano, 2022. Oil on linen, 9.8 x 21.5 in.

NB: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or exhibitions that you’re excited about?  

KC: Yes! I’m represented by Tabula Rasa Gallery, and we have so many exciting projects coming up this year. I do  have a group show in Beijing, in November and before that I’m also having a group show at a London-based  gallery, which will be announced very soon and that I’m very excited for. Then there’s also art fairs and a couple  of other things as well so it’s gonna be a very, very, busy year. To which I always add: being busy is a good  problem to have. 

Artist to Watch


Kate Barbee in her studio. Image courtesy of the artist.

NB: What are some of your earliest memories of making art and how does it relate to what you’re making now?  

KB: Well, my grandma always made these stained glass fixtures for the windows in her home, and I believe it left an impression on how I lay down shapes and colors in my paintings today. Even my use of wax and linseed oil I feel are reflective to the transparency of the stained glass. I feel like the lines I add into my work today are like the grout we would use to fill in the gaps of the glass shards.

I began painting at a young age and I was very interested in abstract shapes. I felt proud and excited about discovering something that was outside of the world we lived in, and I enjoyed the cathartic trance I would go into whenever creating an imaginary world of broken up colors and shapes. Shortly after I became a little more interested in fashion illustration and would draw dresses and outfits on figures as a way to almost live vicariously through my designs. I couldn’t wear these clothes because I didn’t have access to them and as a child I felt as if by creating it on paper I could own something beautiful. I think everybody makes art to escape from their own world, and for me the fashion design and abstraction really helped me delve deeper into my imagination as a child. 

Kate Barbee, High Flying Bird, 2023. Oil paint, cold wax, painted patches, embroidery string, yarn, oil pastels, acrylic paint, sand, and screen printed patches. 72 x 68 in.

NB: So we can definitely see the stained glass windows, the stitching together, and the fashion design. Can you tell us about your process using mixed media? How did you incorporate the use of beads and stitching on your canvas?  

KB: It all started when I was in high school, in this little punk scene in Dallas. I always sewed my jean jackets with band patches and pressed little silver studs into all my clothing because I felt this was my way to stay relevant. The stitches on my paintings now reflect the rawness of the stitching on my clothing in the past. Back then I was in Austin after graduating from college, and I was raising money selling jean jackets to move to Los Angeles. I bought a whole bunch of jackets from thrift stores and used the wood cut prints I made in school and trashed paintings to sew onto the back of them.

Once in LA I started adding patches on the paintings. I liked the idea of a living painting with loose fabric hanging from the painting and blowing around whenever someone would walk by, or when a breeze from an open window would bring it to life. Then I realized it was not sustainable and the pieces were going to fall off or fold/crinkle at a certain point, so I started fully sewing them down and I was very much touched with how familiar this process was with my history of sewing onto clothing. 

At times when I’m working on the bigger paintings, I feel like I’ve created a social quilting circle because my friends have had to help me sew the pieces on. When someone is helping me sew onto the works it becomes a passing of energy where we’re passing the sewing needle back and forth, telling stories. Since I can’t go around the canvas and do this by myself it becomes a special process and I think about my family members in the past sharing this same experience when creating quilts with and for their loved ones. 

Kate Barbee, Dancer 3, Before and After Paris, 2022. Oil paint, cold wax, painted patches, embroidery string, yarn, oil pastel, and acrylic paint. 72 x 72 in. 

NB: So what is the process like to build your fractured and intertwined compositions and these nonlinear narratives? Where do you start?  

KB: I start with a few lines and I’m very impulsive. I see a blank canvas and I immediately attack it. Sometimes that leads me into a dark complicated place with the painting, because there’s no thought put into it. Yet in my practice I work with oil paint, and I think oil is not that forgiving. So I’ve learned to also approach a painting and sort of forgive myself when I make these mistakes. I will usually paint something impulsively and then I will impulsively cover it back up with a different shade of paint and at times it drives me crazy. As time goes on, I turn the painting around, I rotate it and see shapes coming out of it. At some point I would stretch my canvases on the floor and with whatever dirt was picked up, I would find a figure connecting the dots and tracing it out. I’m interested in seeing if I will ever have a calm moment in my painting process, but so far I have been enjoying this way of creating.

Kate Barbee, Whitmore, a Portrait of Bridget, 2021. Oil paint, cold wax, painted patches, embroidery string, yarn, oil pastels, and acrylic paint. 60 x 50in.

NB: I love it. So can you expand on your use of interior and exterior or inside and outside spaces? How does this relate to other themes you explore through your work?  

KB: So I tend to ponder on this daily and I’ve figured that I sort of work with three types of locations: One is the place within myself that is fleeting and is an emotional place, the place that I create from my imagination to escape to. Then there is a physical space that is also fleeting because it is temporary and won’t be there forever. For example, I made a painting of my friend in her garden, which is planned to be sold to developers who will most likely destroy it and build something new. The garden is set on top of a hill, lush green and with a wooden bungalow with large windows in the middle. The space is like a Monet painting and although there’s sadness to painting a space and a moment that will eventually be gone, l also I feel there’s a justice with capturing this moment in time. 

The third space I work with is also a physical location, and generally it’s a location that I have photographed when I’m walking or in a car. I usually take photos of storefronts and signs that I find interesting, then I screen print them onto fabric and sew them as patches onto the paintings. So far I have only done this with photos I’ve taken in Paris and Los Angeles, but the world is always changing and I am always growing. I believe that it is important for me to capture these stamps in time. Of moments, feelings, energies, and locations.

Kate Barbee, In the Studio Pt. 2, 2022. Oil paint, cold wax, painted patches, embroidery string, yarn, oil pastels, and acrylic paint. 68  x 77 in.

NB: Incredible. Do you have any upcoming projects or exhibitions you would like to share?  

KB: Yes, I’m going to be in a group show at Albertz Benda, showing work next to the late Ken Kiff’s work and many other great artists. I’m also working on my presentation for Sotheby’s Institute and a show at Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles in 2025. I am very much looking forward to continuing my career now in New York, and excited to see how I will grow out here. Thank you so much for coming by my studio!

Artist to Watch


Portrait of Dylan Rose Rheingold in her studio, photographed by Ellen Lee.

Nicole: So when did you first begin to paint and what drew you to be an artist? 

Dylan: I don’t remember if there was a specific instance when I realized I wanted to be an artist. I’ve always been painting and drawing, and both of my grandmothers were artists or creatives in some ways so from a very early age I was always encouraged to use my hands. When I was younger I had some anxiety struggles and I think a big outlet for myself, that was encouraged by my family, was drawing. Drawing was always just very natural, it simply stuck with me and I can’t imagine my day-to-day without it. A lot of artists that I talk to, they say I didn’t have a choice, and this is who I am, although it sounds almost corny saying it out loud, but it’s very much true.

Dylan Rose Rheingold, Cloud Nine, 2023. Acrylic, oil stick, china marker, spray paint on canvas, 60 x 70 inches.

Nicole: So could you tell us about the storytelling narrative aspect in your work? 

Dylan: In terms of the storytelling aspect I’m working with a narrative that’s non linear. When people are looking at my work, and also when I’m making the work, I like to think of all of the paintings in dialogue with each other. It’s hard for me to pick apart or speak to only one painting in series. The reason I like working in series and working on multiple pieces in unison is because I like to see how they interact and talk to each other. What’s also interesting to me in terms of the narrative is this aspect of self discovery, thinking about my identity and taking a look at girlhood. I’m interested in the transitional space between girlhood to womanhood, or even in a broader sense, childhood to adulthood. 

Dylan Rose Rheingold, Fairest of the Fair She Is, 2023. Acrylic, oil stick, pastel, marker on canvas, 65 x 65 inches. 

Nicole: How is the process of painting and the use of mixed media related to this narrative?

Dylan: The first time I did a mixed media painting was when I was studying painting and screenprinting a couple years ago in Florence. Before that I studied illustration, so I was learning and going through an education that was focused on mastering the traditional skills before you could move on and come up with your own style. I had a really hard time with this more traditional education and got into a lot of altercations with my professors in my undergrad because I really didn’t like that way of learning. I’m grateful for having those skills mastered now, but it was really frustrating at the time. 

Before that, I was never using mixed media because it wasn’t the traditional thing to do, and it wasn’t until Grad school, after that semester in Italy, when I started thinking about all of the layers I was trying to address through painting and how that fell hand in hand within my own narrative. Speaking as someone who comes from a mixed background in terms of race and religion, I think it also naturally evolved into pulling all these different materials together and layering, and layering, and building these pieces without realizing at the time the connection it had with who I am and my background. I also love mixing materials that are a bit more traditional or high end with things that you wouldn’t expect, and that speaks to the parallels of adolescents and the coming of age. I have on my desk these packs of sparkles or glitter that I’m mixing with these expensive oil sticks and navigating how they can work together and what emotions that can evoke: It’s the girlhood and the womanhood in one.

Dylan Rose Rheingold, The Tea Party, 2023. Acrylic, sumi ink, marker, charcoal on canvas, 60 x 72 inches. 

Nicole: What do you have pinned to your walls and what books do you have open right now? 

Dylan: I have a lot of drawings currently pinned or taped to my walls, and all of these start off in the automatic drawing or automatic writing, surrealist automatism manner. So I’m not trying to think about it and I’m just trying to let the subconscious sink in. What I believe is successful is that they give off a dreamscape and surreal feel to them while also speaking of the narratives I’m interested in. 

The books that I have open at the moment are Katherine Bradford, Rita Ackermann, Cy Twombly, David Humphrey, and a Tracey Emin book. 

Nicole: The expressive line across all of them, you can see how that transgresses into your work. 

Dylan: Thank you, that’s a big compliment! Also there’s Philip Guston, I feel like a lot of people have been looking at him recently, but he’s like my everything.

Dylan Rose Rheingold, On a Horse with No Name, 2023. Acrylic, oil stick, spray paint, latex paint on canvas, 57 x 71 inches. 

Nicole: So tell us what are some of your upcoming projects or exhibitions that you’re excited about.  

Dylan: I’m very excited about my solo show at T293 Gallery in Rome opening May 11th through June 1st.  The show will be taking form with eight large scale mixed media paintings and six wood panel studies that are also mixed media. These studies aren’t really traditional studies because they don’t look like an underpainting or an outline for any of the large scale works. There’s a layover between the objects and the symbolisms throughout those drawings and I think if you take your time and really look at the group together, you’ll find that there’s a lot of crossover with the larger works. After this show in Rome, I’m preparing for a solo show in the winter at M + B Gallery in Los Angeles.

Artist to Watch


Linda Cummings, photographing in Kayak, Farm River, CT.

NB: Linda, when did you first pick up a camera and what drew you to become an artist?

LC: Growing up, my father’s Zeiss Ikon rangefinder was always nearby. He carefully composed the photos of my childhood, and that of my 6 younger brothers and sisters, in ways that gave the appearance of happiness and harmony that were far different from my experience. When I set off for college he loaned me his camera and I took it with the determination to discover the world through my eyes. It’s ironic that the same camera my father used to cover up the messiness, the cruelty and contradictions in our family is the same one that allowed me to disarm and reveal. With a bus ticket from my grandparents and a scholarship I won to the Cleveland Institute of Art I began my new life in search of a community of people like me, with questions like mine. I went to study painting but was met with a very antiquated view from many (mostly male) professors that would often dismiss female students. I noticed an inverse relationship between the number of female students entering school and those graduating, so I went to the Director and suggested they add more female faculty. Instead, they rescinded my scholarship the following semester, so with the encouragement of my friend, April Gornick, who left CIA the year before to go to Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, I finished art school in Halifax, Nova Scotia. There I found a thriving avant-garde community of conceptual artists – Laurie Anderson, Martha Wilson, Katherine Knight, June Leaf and Robert Frank. I flourished there in its progressive, vibrant intellectual community, beside the open sea. It opened my eyes to performance art, art on the move.

Linda Cummings, “9-1-1 TMI”, 1998. Silver Gelatin Photograph, 20” x 16”. Project: Slippages (1992-2022)

NB: So at this time you’re studying painting, how did you come to integrate the performance aspect into your practice? 

LC: In Halifax I began making cameras of my own: I made “pin-hole pigeon cameras” inspired from World War II spy cameras, when pigeons would fly over enemy lines with tiny cameras attached to them. I made a flock of seven pinhole pigeon cameras, each one with a string attached to open its shutter. I’d sit on the bench at a public park, waiting for live pigeons to interact with my decoy pigeons and then make a “pigeon pinhole” picture of the interplay. Performing my artwork in public gave me a place for my work to be seen and so art-making in the open became my conduit. My first artwork purchased by a museum was a silver gelatin pigeon photograph acquired by the Lehigh University Art Gallery in 1979.

Linda Cummings, Operating Theater III, 2002. Silver Gelatin Photograph, 20” x 16”.
Project: Slippages (1992-2022)

NB: Your work is characterized by working in series. What is the process to help you determine each of these new series? How do you know the beginning and the end?

LC: When I start a project, I have mulled it over for quite a while. Once I find the materials that speak to, or reveal the idea, the process accelerates and becomes more organic and intuitive, but I always return to a conceptual basis. An artist gathers lots of impressions, whether in photographs, drawings, writings or sound scores, but knowing which one to save and follow, and which one to let go is the hardest part. Looking back now I see a recurring fascination in my artwork about the interplay of visible and invisible forces shape our lives. I think this goes back to my initial pigeon premise, the idea of the co-creation of the image by both subject and object, like the Heisenberg Principle that the act of observation changes the thing being observed. The end of a series is kind of an illusion. There really is no end, just a transformation in material or technique or subject matter. I mostly wait for something in the work to announce its own completion.

Linda Cummings, Decentralizer, 1997. Silver Gelatin Photograph, 20” x 16”. Project: Slippages (1992-2022)

NB: Your current exhibition Slippages at 89 Greene was initially developed over a span of 10 years (1992 – 2002). Can you tell us a bit more about revisiting this body of work 20 years later and how has the work evolved over time?

LC: Slippages is a project that comes out of a desire to literally transcend the gravity of the past and reclaim what may have been left out, or invisible. Over time, though, I realized that what began as an attempt to picture hidden power dynamics of gender, was evolving into picturing the changing dynamics of power itself. A radical new invisible technology was simultaneously reshaping our landscape and lives. At the end of the millenia, once secure infrastructure and systems of knowledge based in the physical world began morphing and disappearing into a digital reality. I witnessed previously defined hallmarks of society, architecture and tradition begin to crumble and couldn’t help seeing the shifts in the social, cultural, economic and personal domain as inter-related to our increasing digital dependence.

For Slippages I found objects and sites that held cultural significance, and had power and history embedded in them. The garments I chose, seven slips, held powerful memories and associations. The slip was not only a uniform of gender, but also a potent word – both noun and verb – that resonated with the actual power slippages I saw happening in the world. Although the slip was a constant feature in the photographs, my initial subject of identity and resistance had transformed into a meditation on change itself – another invisible force, like the wind – that can be seen by virtue of its impact on the visible world and physical beings.

Linda Cummings, Signs of the Times (Scroll Detail) Archival Pigment Print, 2007. Project: 24 Frames in 24 Minutes at Times Square (2004-2008).

NB: So there’s this aspect of atemporality in your work and a sense of movement, do you want to just expand on that a little bit?  

LC: I like to make artworks that tap into a sense of on-going being, an organic flow of time and process. Susan Sontag says “…There is no final photograph…” because the desire to look and to see and to learn is endless. Art and tradition transcend time, I think, because they spring from a human need to connect, to make meaning and to feel safe. Unconscious processes and unresolved conflicts, like wars, transcend time. They keep on going. Isn’t this why, 50 years after Roe v. Wade, we are coming back to the same question of who’s in control of the female body, even though we all thought it was settled law? Whose interpretation counts? We have differing interpretations and perspectives on events because we all see them through the filters of our own time and place. I search for a moment of recognition where reality and my imagination meet. It is at this moment, this intersection of inside and outside, the convergence of now and then, that I click the shutter and the photograph begins.

There was a project I did for four years, from 2004 to 2008, where I stood as a silent sentinel during the Iraq war in the same spot in front of the U.S. Army recruiting station at Times Square. There I made pictures of young men and women going through the doors to enlist. In the frame was also the war of words and images – glaring screens and billboards of military and commerce competing for attention from passers by. I took 24 frames within 24 minutes to underline the phenomenon of the persistence of vision and to reference the way cinema and news media construct their narratives. Afterwards I  pieced frames together in photographic scrolls so the viewer could slow down and digest these different impulses and images screaming at each other. 

Linda Cummings, Inspecting film for glass production of “GENESIS 1.2.” Project: Transilluminated Photographic Glass Ark Door Panels, 120” x 84”, 2023. Temple Beth Tikvah, (2021-2023)

NB: Amazing. Do you have any other upcoming projects or exhibitions that you would like to share with us?

LC: Yes, on view through March 25th is Slippages at 89 Greene, the project space for Signs and Symbols Gallery in the Lower East Side. And I am excited to be working on a large project titled Genesis 1.2 – a large 10-foot x 7-foot photographic glass artwork to be installed in June 2023 as a permanent installation in Temple Beth Tikvah in Madison, Connecticut. This project engages two passions of mine: understanding properties of light and advocating for the health of water bodies, rivers and estuaries that feed into Long Island Sound. It’s an artwork that was created in a collaborative spirit with members of the community. The guiding premise for the Ark given to me by the Rabbi was Genesis 1:1-5 and the birth of light from darkness, with the spirit of God hovering on the face of the waters. On the first morning of Hanukkah I captured a spectacular sunrise through a glass device I constructed to distort and expand the light rays, separating them into a shimmering spiral of color and transparency. The effect is iridescent, like an impressionist painting. I am constructing a physical space in a sanctuary, creating a stage within which to present an artwork intended to uplift the viewer, metaphorically, into a state of reverie, awe, and inspiration.

Artist to Watch


Portrait of Kevin Claiborne. Photo by Gioconarlo Valentine.

NB: Can you tell us what are some of your earliest memories of art and how do they relate to where you’re at with your practice today? 

KC: I believe my earliest memories of art were that my family had an Ernie Barnes print in our living room at home and I think it was the Sugar Shack painting. Also, I was always a doodler when I was a kid, and I remember I would get in trouble a lot for drawing in class. I think I’ve always been creative and drawn to art although I didn’t really go to art galleries or anything like that when I was younger, but I’ve always been interested in art making in some capacity. Actually my father, he was a photographer on the side, but as a kid I didn’t view that as an art form, just for documentation. It wasn’t until I started learning and I taught myself how to do film photography that I realized it had such power to be used for art. Once I started practicing, I got more into it and eventually developed my own conceptual practice. 

NB: Your work and writings are characterized by themes of mental health, identity and trauma. Can you tell us more about how you approach these topics? 

KC: Through my writing I always try to maintain a certain level of honesty, transparency and introspection. After going through a lot of mental health issues myself, a few years ago I realized that writing was one of the best ways to deal with and understand those issues and concerns. Also making work about something that I’ve personally experienced helps me understand more about myself. After speaking to my mother recently about mental health struggles that she also dealt with, I started to learn more about how these things can be cyclical and repetitive within my own family and within my friends’ families. I try to use that in my work and writing as a tool to understand why these patterns continue to reoccur as I search for solutions to break those patterns. I also have a background in math and one thing you learn in math is that almost everything can be broken down into some sort of pattern. I’ve always been a logical thinker looking for patterns, but art is a creative way to isolate patterns and change your understanding around certain issues. Art making also helps develop your understanding of yourself in relation to those issues, whether on a social micro level or a macro, wider level. 

Kevin Claiborne, UNDERSTAND ME, 2022. Silkscreen on wood panel 48” x 60”. Image courtesy of the artist.

NB: Given the wide range of disciplines within your practice, video, collage, sculpture, writing, photography, silkscreen painting, how do you determine which medium to work with next? Do you think different mediums apply to different concepts? 

KC: Absolutely. I love working in multiple mediums because I feel like it allows me a level of freedom that I believe all artists should give to themselves. I don’t think any artist should be boxed into one medium or mode of making. I think you should definitely take the time to master at least one, yet I think it’s more beneficial and advantageous to your practice if you try to do things that you’re not an expert in because you end up learning new techniques or approaches to your main mode of making. I also don’t like limiting my approach to the one that I’m strong in, because you don’t always know the one you’re the strongest in (you might think you know, but you don’t always know). 

That’s why I try to work with the idea first, the medium second. If I work that way, then it gives the idea more space to evolve beyond me constricting the idea into a box of “this idea has to be a photo, or a painting, or this idea has to be a sculpture” If I just say this is the idea and then allow that idea to tell me how to present it or not present it then I think the idea gets to live longer in a better way.

Kevin Claiborne, DEVOURED, 2022. Silkscreen ink on paper 17” x 11”. Image courtesy of the artist.

NB: So what are some artists or people that you admire or that you’re looking at right now? 

KC: I’ve also been listening to a lot of Gil Scott Heron, his spoken word and older albums and looking at the artwork of Tomashi Jackson and Torkwase Dyson. Those are probably the only two as of this week, because it’s ever changing and there’s way too many talented people to keep track of. I try not to get too caught up in what other artists are doing because it may be distracting, although I think it’s a good thing that nowadays we can see what people are doing through social media – what they’re doing within their own practices and if they’re taking risks.

Kevin Claiborne, TIME WILL TELL, 2022. Archival inkjet print 24” x 18”. Image courtesy of the artist. 

NB: So can you tell us about your most recent exhibition, Understand Me at Osmos Gallery and the group show Dark Matter at Kates-Ferri Projects? 

KC: The solo show at OSMOS consists of photo collage and paintings. The series of paintings are titled The Unconformity Series, and they’re inspired by the Great Unconformity which is a missing chunk of sediment in the Earth’s crust about 100 million years to 1 billion years long. The image and text works in the show consist of found imagery from my family archive and from books that I own referencing West African sculpture and art. It’s a show about fragmentation of identity, it’s about lost history, and it’s about reclaiming or recreating one’s personal and historical and familial narrative. The Dark Matter show at Kates-Ferri Projects is about how dark matter exists in space, but it’s not something that can be observed and the group show takes a bunch of different approaches to documenting or creating that which cannot be observed or captured. The works that I have in the show are one of the Unconformity paintings and one collage, a piece of abstraction with a piece of fragmentation. I love how the show came together, there’s a lot of variety within the works and mediums, and how people are using those mediums in unconventional ways.

Kevin Claiborne, I PROMISE TO BE, 2022. Acrylic on paper 30” x 23”. Image courtesy of the artist. 

NB: So lastly, what are some projects that you’re excited about in the future?

KC: I’m working on a solo show that will be in Sweden this year at Public Service gallery in Stockholm and working on a group show in New York for June. Personally, I am trying to use more of my writing within my work. I’m really interested in trying to figure out different ways that my writing, my language, and words can exist within my work, and trying to step outside of my comfort zone when it comes to the way in which I use my text and poetry and the word itself.

Artist to Watch


Portrait of Gabriel Mills. Photography by  Danielle DeJesus

NB: Can you tell us about your experience with art before Yale and how you have arrived at where you are now with your practice? 

GM: My training was classically inclined. I maintained non-academic experiments outside of my studies. At Yale, I synthesized my interests. Currently, I follow my hunches, and unforeseen space opens up. Simultaneously, I revisit familiar territory with an adjusted level of rigor and perspective.

Gabriel Mills, Love Can Last Forever:070612, 2021. Oil On Canvas, 72”x72”. Image courtesy of the artist.

NB: Can you speak on how the physicality of paint is used to address the subject matter of your work? 

GM: Love, time, and weight are central subjects to my practice. The range from heavy topographical to smooth atmospheric surfaces is a byproduct of a considerate process for those subjects.

Gabriel Mills, QUARAEM, 2022. Oil On Canvas. 73”x73”. Image courtesy of the artist.

NB: Could you share more about your painting process and in what ways the process differs between your abstract and representational work ? 

GM: On the surface, the abstract paintings aggressively deal with the physical nature of oil paint; The representational work moves towards non-narrative while weaving in and out of legibility. 

I’m bringing my full self to each work, to then go on an arduous journey. The destination isn’t ever a physical location; it’s an internal realization. The outcomes of said process aren’t predetermined to be on a binary of aesthetics. I understand the distinctions between modes of painting, but I don’t think in those terms while I’m creating.

Gabriel Mills, The Lily of The Field And The Bird Of The Air, 2022. Oil On Canvas, 73”x182”. Image courtesy of the artist.

NB: What is the intent behind the compositions of your diptychs and triptychs? Is there a particular story or narrative to these works?

GM: There is no specific grand narrative. Instead, there are themes for contemplation; occasionally, a piece will be narrative. Each painting is a new opportunity, and none of them are promises. My motivations are to examine relationships by forcing familiar situations to exist alongside an unlikely companion.. 

NB: In your recent show “Butterfly March” at Alexander Berggruen there’s a series of abstract ‘color field’ paintings. Could you walk us through the process behind these works, and tell us a little bit more about this exhibition? 

GM: The “Butterfly March” exhibition contained a wide range of approaches to painting revolving around existential themes; Living multiple metaphorical lives, dying through the flesh to be reborn in spirit.

Gabriel Mills, Sandman’s Crygarden, 2022. Oil On Wood Panel (Triptych) 24”x56”. Image courtesy of the artist.

NB: What are some projects in the future that you’re excited about?

GM: Painting is most exciting; seeing what comes of it all is exciting. That’ll always be my case. An exhibition catalog of “Butterfly March” will be coming out soon, via Alexander Berggruen. Regarding exhibitions, my next solo show is in March 2023, with Micki Meng gallery in San Francisco. 

Artist to Watch


Portrait of Rachael Anderson. Photography by  Sarah Wonderling.

NB: What are your earliest memories of art?

RA: My upbringing on an apple orchard and flower farm is a huge influence on my art.  My earliest memories are of making things out of found materials outside while my parents worked in the orchard.

NB: Can you walk us through the process of your work, from the moment you chose an image for reference until completion of a painting? Would you consider your work to be premeditated or intuitive?

RA: I usually find objects and spaces that have a certain affect, mood or shape and put them in relation with other things and spaces.  Some of my favorite things to paint are bones, leaves, flowers, wheels, feathers, pumpkins, compost, and thickets. I try to paint from observation initially and as the painting develops, I abstract certain parts of it.  I don’t start with a full picture of the image I am making.  I begin imagining a bouquet of objects that can communicate  ideas related to cycles of growth or decay, non-human agency, human relationships to the biosphere, and biological fascination. Then I find things in the world and set them up in my studio or go out and paint them from observation where I find them. I sometimes paint from photographs in order to record specific lighting situations and it’s always a balance between referencing photos and looking at things directly. 

Rachael Anderson, Annihilation,Growth. Oil on canvas. 2022. 52 x 48 x 1.75 inches. Image courtesy of Anthony Gallery.

NB: Photography seems to play a very important role in your practice, can you tell us more about how it has influenced your choices as a painter?

RA:  I use photography as a research tool for finding things I want to reference for paintings. Polaroids distort things giving them an effect almost like an aura that I find ethereal and haunting. I try to replicate this aura with painting. The way polaroids develop in the atmosphere and space where they’re taken reminds me of painting, too. I love to photograph objects in natural lighting during certain times of the day and night such as very early in the morning or right before the sun goes down. This adds drama to whatever I’m looking at. I notice how light is always changing things–nothing is ever still.

Rachael Anderson, Terrestrial Twins Portal. Oil and marble dust on canvas. 2022. 37″ x 50″ x 1″. Image courtesy of the artist.

NB: What are some of your references in art history that impact your practice today? What are some artists you are looking at right now?

RA: Women surrealists and spiritualist painters like Leonora Carrington, Agnes Pelton, Georgia O’keeffe, Max Ernst, Victor Man, Fra Angelico, Bjork, Francesca Woodman, Albrecht Dürer. More specifically, I love O’keefe’s masterful painting. Her closeup crisp florals reinforce for me the wonderfully bizarre forms of plants and bones, they have character and personality and somehow it feels as if they don’t care about us. I love Fra Angelico’s colors and his use of light and Max Ernst’s nature at dawn paintings. I am attracted to classical paintings for their spiritualism and emphasis on light. I like the challenge of framing things with light that speaks to both the 21st century and the past, working in this way feels as if traveling in time.

Rachael Anderson, Pool of Narcissi. Oil on canvas, 2021. 30” x 24” x 1.75”. Image courtesy of the artist.

NB: Can you tell us what is the intent behind your use of light and color and how this is related to the titles in your work?

RA: I reference light and color in my titles to describe whatever phenomena I’m pointing to in the work. Some titles reference the golden hour, twilight, the coolness of a mirror, the spectral quality of green leaves, the blue radiance of the light cast by the moon, the fluorescence of a light bulb, the toxicity of cobalt. The distinct seasonal lighting within which the painting is made is often very influential to its title, and central to the work itself.

Rachael Anderson, Golden Hour Meidiland Rose Progression. Oil on canvas, 2021. 16″ x 20″ x 1″. Image courtesy of the artist.

NB:What are some projects that you are working on or are excited about in the future?

RA: I’m excited to explore my hand in painting more and more and to continue to surprise myself, for now I am focused on just painting in my studio. I am also very happy to be included in a group show titled the Floral Impulse curated by Xaviera Simmons at David Castillo in December.

Artist To Watch


Portrait of Rachel Libeskind. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo by Ornellas Fieres.

NB: Can you share your experience with art as a younger woman and how you arrived at what your practice is today?  

RL: I am very lucky to have been raised in a very artistic family. As a child I was always encouraged to follow my dreams and was told that art was the best thing you could do with your life. I spent a lot of time making art, although as a child and young adult I was much more involved in acting and singing, and I did a lot of that professionally as a kid. At university I got a degree in French Literature; since I finished early and had two more years left, I figured I would get another degree in visual studies. I had a great professor who suggested I should be an artist, so this is where I ended up. (I also graduated into a profound recession and watched the government and economics majors struggle to find work – being an artist made sense in that context). 

I now realize that I’ve had great luck in terms of showing my work, selling my work, and being able to actually have a valuation of my work.

Rachel Libeskind. Image still from The Traveling Bag; Performed at MaryTwo in Lucerne, Switzerland on October 7th. (The remnants of the performance are on view now, as a part of their current exhibition Youth Hostel – curated by Kathy Battista). Image courtesy of the gallery and the artist. Photo by Sebastian Lendenmann.

NB: So can you speak on how the process of collage, installation, video and performance inform each other and how does your approach vary between them? How is a live performance different from other works?  

RL: The way I think about it is that all of my work has a collage logic. That is to say, I allow myself to freely take and mix any element I want in whatever form I’m using it –that’s the beauty of collage, that it’s the most liberating form. A lot of artists are very specific, and I have been told many times in my life that I should narrow my practice, but I just can’t. I am someone who’s very multifarious, and I really believe that every idea I have that I want to transmute to work deserves its own form and deserves to be critically examined in whatever form it needs. 

The performances are a little bit their own world, they serve to me as this connective tissue between my research and my studio practice. For me, performances are an opportunity to imprint people in a different type of way because it’s the most ephemeral form of art. I think a lot about my performance practice as an experience that someone has of me that they’ll never have again. In this way performance is an incredibly unique and wonderful thing that I believe all artists, even people who have nothing to do with performance, should pursue. 

NB: How do you describe the parallel between the personal experience and community engagement in your work? Are there certain projects that you feel are more personal than others?  

RL: Yes. The performance work is always hyper personal because I’m there as the work, and I’m always telling a story.  My studio practice and the work that gets shown in galleries and institutionally is personal because it’s me making it, but there’s a negotiation that happens with how much vulnerability is allowed to permeate into the presentation of work. Vulnerability and authenticity are, in my opinion, the key to what makes art “good”, although this also can make things too heavy-handed at times.

Another important aspect is history, the central framework of my practice. History is collective, but the way in which we encounter it is personal. I’m interested in the different ways in which we all think about history, the ways in which we were all taught history, and the ways through which we all connect to our own histories. It is within those fault lines, where the personal comes up for me and for my audience. 

Rachel Libeskind, Windows: She lives on (Face leaves), 2022. Scanned collage on stretcher bars, soft PVC, staples, printed foam and acrylic paint. 47.25” x 35.5” (120 x 90 cm). From the exhibition Transparent Things at Signs and Symbols. Image courtesy of the gallery and the artist.

NB: Your work often consists of image archives that reference history. Can you talk about this process and how the work evolves from the initial research towards a finalized work?  

RL: The initial research is often a very long and slow process. It begins when I encounter an image and I think “what is this crazy photograph? I’ve never seen this” or “who took this? Where does it come from? Who are the subjects and why were they chosen?” And then for years I will slowly build research around it, meaning there’s often multiple concurrent research projects happening in the studio. Luckily I have brilliant people to  help me with it. 

What ends up happening during this process is that my specific interests or questions begin to coalesce and I decide how narrow or wide the archive for a specific project is: then I make a choice about the form the work is going to take. Once I know whether it’s going to be a video, an installation, a performance and/or some sort of collage, I begin to build the archive that belongs with, and informs, the work. In the end every work of mine has its own archive and that archive comprises a selection from multiple archives that exist digitally or in real life. When the work is done, the archive is closed and I usually make a book, a password encrypted website, or something that encases the archive.

Rachel Libeskind, Windows: Three Moons (detail), 2022. Scanned collage on stretcher bars, rip-stock, printed silicone, acrylic, superglue and staples. 53” x 53” (135 x 135 cm). From the exhibition Transparent Things at Signs and Symbols. Image courtesy of the gallery and the artist.

NB: Can you tell us about your most recent show, Transparent Things at Signs and Symbols and your new body of work Windows?  

RL: My show at Signs and Symbols is a collection of 10 paintings (or as the director of the gallery calls them assemblages) that are made out of PVC, latex, silicone, paint, staples, linen, and paper. I basically wanted to work on a stretcher bar, to work on canvases, just because I really love Painting. I collect a lot of paintings myself but part of why I don’t usually paint, and part of why I’m sort of a mad woman in terms of how many forms I like to use, is because I’m always grappling with this masculinity of painting. Perhaps it’s because I studied with Benjamin Buchloh that I had this idea of post-war 20th century painting: I love Richter, Kiefer, Newman, Rothko, and Pollock, and these are all incredible painters, but I’ve always felt under a kind of suffocating claustrophobia of that work as a woman. 

Additionally, painting is so incredible because for thousands of years, before altars and frescos, screens and photographs, we’ve been making life-like marks on walls such as cave paintings. There is something deeply innate in that process and that encounter. In the Renaissance for example, the painting that lived in the home of a usually wealthy person was like a window, this other world or portal that you could transport yourself to, in the way that a screen is today. These works at Signs and Symbols are a meditation on that, both on my grappling with “what is painting?” and what can I get away with calling a painting and enshrining myself in the legacy of great male painters.

Installation view of STRIKE at Wild Palms (Düsseldorf, DE). Image courtesy of the gallery and the artist.

NB: Would you be able to share with us any upcoming exhibitions or projects that you’re excited about in the future?  

RL: Of course. I’ll be doing a very exciting Christmas Nativity scene for Half Gallery Annex that will be up for a few weeks over the holidays, at the corner of East 4th and Avenue B. I’m not actually Christian, but I really love nativity scenes because there’s no irony in them, and it’s such a wonderfully direct opposition. 

I’m also working on a project in Sicily about migration and diaspora. Sicily has such unbelievable, untouched, incredible churches and iconography that’s around, and so many people who are taking over abandoned churches and making shows in them. This whole art scene I’m starting to discover there is amazing.Lastly, I am very excited for my first solo museum show in 18 months, at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University. I’ll be going to Alabama in a few months to do more research in their archive and I’m really looking forward to it.