Recently I sat down with local artist Rachel Rodriguez. A graduate of art school with a B.A. in Fine Arts, Rachel has been working on building the series recently which will be showcased in Arsaga’s on Crossover in Fayetteville with several signature pieces. Armed with a technique for realism and the imagination of abstract and surrealist influence, she showed me some of her work.
Full of greens, blues and earthtones (done in oil on canvass) the majority of the collection’s pieces revolve around the subject matter of a woman, her figure and the connection with her surroundings. As a woman painting women, Rachel is able to capture nuances and replicate feminine subtleties in her work that hearkens likeness to her main artistic influence, John William Waterhouse, whose piece The Charmer, I could see a resemblance to in Rachel’s Leslie in Nature.
Unlike Waterhouse, the female figure is not posed in an idealized aesthetic manner; however, but rather in an “archetype of a strong woman” in which the subject is in a meditative, semi-nostalgic state contemplating. Her emotive state is reflected in the blue grey dress she wears and the same tone of grey reflected in the overcast sky off in the distance above the vividly vibrant green trees. Although she does work in the tradition of figurative realism and stays true to the proportion of the female body like Waterhouse in the foreground, the background is a reflection of the emotion that of that figure and her connection to nature. This part of her collection reflects her “intellectual self” in which Rachel filters her view of the world, through a “near-sighted lens” caused of her near-sightedness for which she wears contact lenses and replicates that view on canvass in which the foreground is fully in focus and detailed and dominated by her figurative realism, while the background is out-of-focus therefore taking on a more impressionist and expressionist mood, thus combining two views in which she can offer realistic portrayal of the female body and still communicate a certain emotion in her painting.
In a recent show where her collection “Angels and Goddess,” a collection composed mostly of classical nudes, Rachel took techniques of figurative realism and through the lens of a woman offered a view of the female body which was not overtly sexual, but rather celebrates the form as an organic form in the manner which exists in nature. She uses models for her paintings that do not “necessarily reflect society’s idealized image of what a woman should look like” but rather a woman just as she is.
Rachel’s other major stylist outlet is an abstract, emotional style in which she explores the meaning of dreams and her love for Salvador Dali and surrealism. Her interest of psychology and dreamlike states and moods is explored mainly via acrylics on canvass allowing her to explore her interest in Carl Jung and his concepts of dreams. A true appreciation of her brushwork can be had only in person with the pieces full of reds, oranges and yellows where you can see the textural component of her mood pieces.
When I asked if she is an artist that tries to convey a certain message with her art, Rachel responded: “Not really. If anything it would be a message of the subject among nature and at peace and harmony with Nature. I really like to leave the message to be extracted by the observer and for that observer to take away from the painting whatever his or her interpretation of that piece might be. As opposed to other artists who convey a specific message almost symbolically through a certain image.”
If you wish to see her art in person, her series, Exquiste Vibrant, will be on full display on Jan. 25, art show and reception starting at 5:30 p.m. at Arsaga’s Expresso Café located 1852 N. Crossover in Fayetteville. Another show showcasing some of her work along with other local artists will be held in the Springdale Art Expo located on 113 W. Emma on Jan. 23.