Rachel is a ceramic mask maker & photographer & dream sequencer & frequent recluse. Her mask-making pursuits lead her to Mongolia for a three-month mask making apprenticeship, travels across many terrains, facilitation of mask making workshops, group and solo exhibitions in the SF Bay Area, and collaborations with photographers, videographers, dancers and musicians for still and video pieces.
She currently lives and work in Oakland, CA.
We live in a very complicated world. Notions of what is right and wrong oscillate within changing perceptions of justice, truth, love and beauty (to name a few) and somehow we attempt to navigate this chaos (and it boils faster).
How do you know which way to go?
I have some stuff of life (we all do). Really, really rich material. This is why I create - because I can, and it turns out there are quite a lot of interesting things to say. More than I could explain in words.
What is a mask? Pick it up, feel it in your hands... hardened clay texture and fur. Perhaps a vague expression crosses your face. You might even put it on. Now you are given recognized permission to be someone other than yourself; you are now welcome to become whoever is the mask.
I often wonder what happens behind a mask. It is a bit strange - masks are everywhere and anywhere as long as humans have been around. Do we become more ourselves the moment we merge with a mask or something different? I cannot fully or coherently answer this question, but I can share why (I think) I make masks.
I’ve come to realize that mask making, to me, is an expression of dream language. Creating worlds for masks to inhabit, via scene building and photography, is an attempt convey and translate images from the dream world into something tangible to reflect upon in waking reality, which hopefully encourages the viewer’s connection with both the inner world.
I am also inspired by nature. I have an almost insatiable thirst to become closer to the creatures I carve. We forget all the time that they’re there, patiently watching and perhaps hoping we’ll either learn from our mistakes or self-destruct, leaving them to the peace of summer quietly turning into winter.
But I am mostly inspired by humans. I’m inspired by the chaotic search for happiness and a sense of growing urgency to the undeniable injustices in the world. I’m inspired by the absolutely insane standards of life we’ve placed upon ourselves. Within all of this, I’m inspired by the search for the self. Who am I in the madness of this world? What do I want?
Sometimes I feel a seemingly endless feeling of futility. My chest feels as if it will sink into a vast negative space beneath my ribs, all before I’ve opened my eyes to the morning. Yet I believe a key to alleviation for what is perhaps a collective feeling of futility, is connection - whether it be our inner dreaming world, the natural world, or just with one another in the human experience. I believe that if we sit quietly and invite the lessons of what it is to truly connect, we are given the opportunity to make wiser choices for ourselves and everything that surrounds us.