Making Conversation with Rachel Gloria Adams
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This week's giveaway is sponsored by Barrett Wool Co., and we're giving away a Nightfall Doll Kit designed by Susan B. Anderson. Each kit includes a printed cotton project bag filled with enough of Barrett Wool Co.'s Home Worsted Weight yarn to make all three Nightfall Dolls featured in the latest issue of Making No. 12 / DUSK.
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The biggest of thanks to everyone involved in this weeks episode, Rachel, Barrett Wool Co., the Making team and our producer Alice Anderson. I hope you'll join me each week as we talk and learn from more fascinating makers. For podcast notes and transcription, visit makingzine.com. Have a wonderful week!
Click to show transcript.
Ashley [00:00:05] Welcome to Making Conversation, a podcast for makers where we share with you some incredible people within this community we love so much. Here's where you get to listen to a little part of their making journey. I'm your host, Ashley Yousling. Today, I'm talking with Rachel Gloria Adams. We cover a lot in this episode from Rachel's upbringing and the role her mother played in helping her discover her calling in art, to her experience as a Black mother and artist. Her unique perspective is visualized in bold graphics, prints and natural forms. She also heads TACHEE, a textile design company featuring her bright prints on small batch clothing and home goods. Together with her husband Ryan, the pair founded the Piece Together Project, a rotating collection of murals in Maine's East Bayside neighborhood in Portland. This project celebrates the people that built and thrived in this special neighborhood. Rachel's art is featured on the cover of our brand new publication Bright, and you can find her in the pages of our latest issue of Making No. 12 / DUSK, both available for purchase and 2022 subscriptions at makingzine.com. Follow Rachel on Instagram @rachelgloriaia and @shoptachee. You can find more about Rachel and her work at rachelgloria.com. So settle in and enjoy listening to Rachel share her story.
Rachel [00:01:29] It's kind of actually easy for me to think back on, my mom's an artist, an art teacher, so art making has just always been at the forefront of our lifestyle. And you know, we were the kids on the beach that didn't have regular beach toys. My mom would bring like plaster to the beach and we would make shapes and we'd call them fossils and like, kind of bizarre thinking about it now. But also I'm like, oh that was pretty unique and definitely plays a role in who I am now. But like any child, you know, you don't want to ultimately become your parent. And so in high school, I went to this boarding school in Massachusetts that, you know, was pretty affluent, it was pretty white and it was pretty athletic, and I was none of those things. So I felt pretty displaced there. You know, I hadn't even actually taken art classes in high school. I kind of avoided it just in an attempt to fit in, I guess. But I remember my senior year. It came time to start thinking about college, and it was sort of like all these things that I was interested in as a child that I would do with my mom, I was suddenly interested in doing again. So it was like college application time and I remember my mom took me out to eat and I was like, "Alright, what are you doing after you leave this boarding school?" And I didn't have an answer like I would think most children wouldn't, but she took me to her art room and she just put every art supply on a table and was like, you're staying here today and you're going to work something out. And so I just sat down and I did this painting with watercolors and Sharpies, and there was like eighth graders screaming. I tuned everything out and I just focused, and I started and finished this painting and then my mom just got this like huge shit eating grin on her face and she was just like, I told you, you know. And it was kind of one of those moments where it was something that I had been fighting for whatever teenage reasons that ultimately it just became glaringly clear that it was something that I had to do and I had been avoiding it for no good reason, really. But you know, I grew up with a lot of textiles in the house. My mom would frame mudcloths and Marimekko fabric, so I was just always surrounded in it. And, you know, it's obviously a huge influence in my work, but it's something I love. So I think it was kind of like I had to put myself into it because I would just stare at it so much that it felt like it was where I had a strong voice.
Ashley [00:04:21] So your mom had an art room? Was she a teacher?
Rachel [00:04:24] Yeah, middle school art. So she taught middle school art, and she also had this way of always like because, you know, the middle school and high school were attached. She had this really good way of picking out kids that needed an art cheerleader, so her art room would always have some awkward high school kid in the back of the room just drawing. And then I realized that I was also that kid, but she just kind of has a way of acknowledging or seeing people's potential in that way and cheerleading it.
Ashley [00:04:56] Yeah, for sure. How did you feel in that art room? What what was it that you connected with?
Rachel [00:05:03] Yeah, I mean, I didn't feel pressure, you know, going to the type of school I went to. I was a math and science kid, you know, I liked concrete answers. But once you got into English and history and all of that, I had some conflicting theories with what was being told to me, and it overwhelmed me and I didn't want to participate, but in the art room I could do whatever I wanted to do and feel like all the tools were there for me and that I could find some version of peace and zoning out and making things look right. It was kind of like my own visual math equation, if that makes any sense, you know where it was like coming up with compositions and things like that. I think I kind of think about it almost scientifically, and it's a weird way to pull everything together but I find myself doing it and it's like, oh, it's because, you know, I am interested in things outside of just pattern, but how my brain works to get there, you know, it isn't always just like flower, flower.
Ashley [00:06:07] Where did this take you after high school? What was the next step in your journey?
Rachel [00:06:13] So, I went to MECA, and I mean, honestly, I hated it. I mean, I can't. I did have a shifting point where I didn't begin to like it, but that first year it was coming from feeling like I was an outcast at the school I had just been at because I wasn't a rich white athlete that, you know, was going to go on to my investment banking company that my parents already worked at. Then I go to art school and I'm like, not nearly weird enough to have friends or something. There was just like this disconnect where I was like, too normal or something. So I just socially really didn't fit. And then I had all these students around me who were doing this work that was like extremely personal, and I am not that type of artist. So I had a hard time figuring out like where my place was within the walls of an art school because I just wanted to make esthetically pleasing pictures. But that's not what you're like, no one says that art school, it has to be about, you know, the sun setting on the wounded soldiers of your soul. And I'm just like, yeah, I like peach and yellow together. And yeah, so my experience was like, yeah, I just felt extremely out of place and MECA didn't have a textile department. So it was kind of not only did I like not fit in socially, but I wanted to do things on fabric and I kind of had to, you know, I did printmaking and thank god head of printmaking department, Elizabeth Jabar, is honestly what kept me in school. So I'm thankful that she just kind of let me do my thing. But at the same time, no one else was really trying to do what I was doing, so I kind of didn't have that type of peer group. So my junior year Elizabeth kind of saw what I was trying to do, and she suggested I get an internship. So I ended up interning with Karen Gelardi, who's an artist here and has also worked with Making at large, and I interned with her and at the time she was on Angela Adams and also had her fine art practice, so we kind of joke about the internship being kind of like this demystification process for me. Like, I could kind of see these things that I wanted and see it from her, her way of journeying through it. And I, you know, helped install shows with her but then I also, you know, would just hang out or like, just like be someone to be there for her. And she's actually my youngest daughter's godmother. So like, the relationship has stood the test of time and I feel like, you know, we both have grown as artists, but she's been like, you know, that's when I think of my experience in college, what I got out of it, is I got I got Karen. So Karen and a lot of debt. So, yeah, so that was art school. And I like didn't finish, but then did, like it was just like this sloppy exchange to get out of there. And from there, I kind of like did what every kid does after art school and worked at a bakery and made sandwiches for a couple years. You know, and I was always painting, you know, and I was always making things, and I'd go back home to my mom's and she would always, you know, she never wanted money to be the thing that kept me from making artwork so she would always make art supply drops or take me to Michael's and get me like, stretched canvas, you know, like whatever she had to do because she would always just say, I just had to keep painting. So that's kind of what I've been doing.
Ashley [00:10:14] Yeah. So going back, you know, you said what you got on art school was Karen. Do you feel like it was worth going to art school? Do you think that we're seeing a new way possibly emerging? Because I look at college as like a construct and this barrier to entry and that I feel like you come out of it with all this debt and it's so heavy. I mean, I'm still paying off my student loans and I'm not using my degree at all. But I want to have that conversation with you because I think there's something deeper there.
Rachel [00:10:51] Yeah, I mean, I kind of think, I think it's bullshit. You know, I think that's like ultimately where it land with that. And I don't really have a better term for it other than bullshit. But I also I think there's some people that love school. And that being able to go on this expensive ride and learn the things and have that academic approach to it is valuable to some. But then there's people, where I would put myself into, where I truly think that like had my parents maybe thought a little bit outside of the box and just were like, look if you want to be an artist, here's this weird town only two hours away from home%u2013why don't we set you up with an apartment and you just network your ass off? You go to every art opening. We'll keep dropping off art supplies and don't take out this massive debt as an 18 year old and you meet people, do studio visits and read books or you know whatever you have to do and figure it out. I mean, what a luxury to go to art school and a luxury that you don't understand the type of money you're taking on when you're that age. There is no comprehension of what that actually looks like, and you are told, you know, you sit down and like, yeah, you're going to be paying this forever and you're like, "No, because I'm going to make millions on paintings!" And it's like, no, you're not. You're going to go work at Starbucks, like you're not doing anything other than that. It's also like this weird thing where it's not like, it's like med school. You know, like, I understand some jobs should have an education tied to it. But that being said, an art education to me looks like studio time going to artists lectures, reading and learning that song and dance of networking. So like, do you need to pay that much money to do things that you can do for free? Like, ultimately. And then I think it's also like god forbid you get a faculty that's like self-absorbed and also in this like upper echelon of thinking where, you know, we only respect the white great painters that painted the same things over and over again. And God forbid, you be influenced by something that's not in this group of people and you don't use the term lexicon in everything you're talking about. And it's just kind of like this weird formula that you have to do. And I just think it's kind of gross. And then having the year that we just had where, you know, I mean, this is leaping from art school, but I mean, art world in general of what I've experienced is that 2020 was a unique year to say the least. But with the social awakening and suddenly these art institutions are recognizing, you know, black creatives, creatives of color, you kind of realize that that formula that was dictated to you actually doesn't matter because I could have done everything right and still not have been recognized, you know, so there's like some other thing which has been unveiled going on. But now I, you know, now that my husband and I are both getting more opportunities that we never were getting before, we kind of see that, like, you know, we thought we weren't good enough to be having these opportunities. And then you realize it's like, oh, it's not even–you could actually be better than the people getting the opportunities, but they did it their way, whatever. So, and Ryan's an artist and didn't go to art school, and sometimes he beats himself up for it, you know, because he thinks he can't talk the fine art lingo, you know? But if our kids were to want to go to art school, we would, you know, we've said we're just going to help them with an apartment and tell them they got they got to do it. They gotta figure it out. Yeah. And like, and have no debt. I don't know, sneak into the classroom, you know, like audit.
Ashley [00:15:15] Just don't get the credit.
Rachel [00:15:17] Like, yeah. I just, I don't know. I have a lot of regret, but I think it was a generational thing with, you know, my parents where it was just like, you go to college. Especially coming off, you know, boarding school.
Ashley [00:15:29] Yeah, I mean, so much comes to my mind. And I think 2020 affirmed so much of what I had been feeling for so long in terms of academia and the barriers that were created for so many people, both economically and racially, and almost dropped the veil, you know? And it's like, no, none of that stuff matters. And yes, of course, there's vocations and professional careers that do need it. But we've been fed this system that was created just to continue to create those barriers and to make us feel like a value was placed on accomplishments rather than what we say is valuable. One of the things that you kind of touched on early on, and then I'm just thinking a lot about as you're talking, is that you mentioned being in boarding school and how being in that art room was almost like a refuge or like a way to work out your feelings and your thoughts in like a mechanical, visceral way for something that you couldn't control, which was this narrative. So, you know, when you take that context, maybe share a little bit more deeper on that, if you're comfortable. What was making you uncomfortable and what was frustrating you? And fast forward to today, and it's probably very similar in a way, the relationship between that. Yeah.
Rachel [00:17:08] I mean, I think, you know, my high school experience, I was the only black girl in my graduating class. And so it's something that I'm like kind of processing now later, because, you know, in the moment, like I also was kind of a bro and drank beer with the hockey guys. So like, you know, there's that weird dichotomy, too. But when I think back on, you know, the classroom experience specifically like, I mean, I had like giant pit stains the entire class all the time because I was always terrified that I would have to talk. And being the only black girl in the room, I just never felt like maybe I wasn't understanding what they were talking about the right way or I felt like my answers or perspectives could be completely well-said and valid and legit, but it was not going to get the same response as anyone else in the room. And I felt like I had to be cautious of the way I talked and, you know, it's just kind of this–it's really tense. And that's why I always liked math and science because there was no gray area there, you know? Like either it's right or it's wrong. But even, you know, with the other classes, it was kind of just like wildly uncomfortable for me and the art room and being an artist and having that outlet helped me eliminate my voice from the situation, and I could just show up and be strong in something visual. And I think that helped give me confidence because I wasn't going to gain confidence from using my voice because I kind of in a way disqualified my voice from the situation and felt that because of who I was, like I was inferior and shouldn't be even having the conversation like this was my chance to learn the side effects and that that's how it is when I go home and like my world was completely different. And so, you know, doing artwork was my chance to be–and like I was saying, it's not like I was like tackling heady subjects in my artwork, you know. I've always kept what my content has been fairly approachable. You know, I do geometric stuff for florals and I'm very interested in just balancing compositions as a thing. And it wasn't until this last couple of years where I'm like, why don't I paint or do anything that's like, has actual content to it? You know, why is everything decorative? And I think what I realized was that by painting or drawing these flowers or these geometric patterns, it was kind of my way of like building this like wall of saying that I was ok, you know, because I'm putting out there and these like pretty images and it's this like protective layer. And so with, you know, the way everything's gone the last couple of years, I had this idea of doing these family pictures where I would take the patterns that I had been developing or thinking about and kind of take old photographs and do paintings where I would swap in my textiles for the ones that were there. And it's something that I had been like thinking about doing for a long time, but kind of going back to that high school thinking where it's like, you know, why would anyone want to see that? Why is that narrative important or why? Why do I deserve to be on a canvas in that way, kind of thinking. And then 2020 hit and I was just like fuck it, we're going in. And so I did a residency at Speedwell this past summer where I kind of I just did all the things I've been wanting to do and did it without even second guessing it, whereas there's been no other point in my life where I felt like that was my place to do, or that I could speak to what I was doing because I think as fucked up as 2020 was, 2020 also gave me a voice that I haven't had before because I've been forced to talk. And I have things to say, but I just never, I always had counted myself out of the conversation just because my own bullshit in my head.
Ashley [00:22:00] And not just in your head.
Rachel [00:22:01] Yeah, right.
Ashley [00:22:03] So, I want to talk about the idea of our voices and stepping into our power, and I think it's so different from person to person. But I think about our voice, and so much of that is carved away over the years right through development and even before right? Like ancestral experiences. And, would you say that you recognize and hear your own voice? When was it that you weren't assimilating? But like you saw you, you saw your voice and recognize that.
Rachel [00:22:47] Yeah, so around the time of the George Floyd murder, you know, Ryan did a mural that got a lot of attention. And from that we did an interview for the Portland Press Herald. And it was the first time I've had to directly talk about race and like my personal experience with it. And I never really talked about it, let alone like with white people, you know, like, it's this thing that can happen, you know, on our terms. But like, you know, now we're being asked these specific questions and so I think when I did that interview, I talked about how we were goingto handle talking about these things with the girls and how to communicate that to them and what that would look like and what that would mean. And I think in that moment of having that experience of the interview and then having it come out and then having people reach out to me, like thanking me and then also not knowing that, like just never hearing my perspective on things. It was kind of like this moment where I was like, oh, yeah, like, I actually don't do this, you know? And I think that it was kind of like a way of having a conversation like, you know, with this person interviewing me, but it ended up being a conversation that was had in all these different pockets. And I felt like I kind of contributed to maybe some people's understanding of what the black experience is like in some ways. I think that was a big one. And then like, you know, I think on just the interpersonal level, I mean, I've married my absolute match. And so that has also helped me tremendously. Whereas in previous phases and relationships in my life, like I did not have a voice at all, would not speak up. But we we're really good at communicating and that's something now that I can see translate into other things. So it's sort of like I built my confidence at home and now I'm able to go out a little bit more confidently just because he cares, and he asks the questions, too. Not that I always wanted to talk but, so yeah, it's a little bit of of that, kind of just the learning at home and being forced out of the house to talk about these things I think together has kind of giving me that confidence.
Ashley [00:25:31] And how has that translated into your artwork? You know, you kind of touched on that a little bit, how your work could be representative of more than geographic shapes or flowers. And so what was that turning point for you where you're like almost finding your identity in a new way? You already had it, you know, but peeling back another layer. So, what was that turning point and when was that for you?
Rachel [00:26:00] Yeah, so that was at my residency, and it just kind of felt like dishonest to not be doing it, you know? And I think that because of this, like%u2013we went from no one locally really knowing that we were even artists to like, not to sound incredibly douchey, but like we were in three of the Maine magazines in one month. So like, there's some shit going on around us, you know. So I kind of felt that like because we've been photographed and seen and, you know, and in these different situations, in these different art situations that I could. I mean, honestly, it's like I feel like because I knew we had eyes on us that it was my time to like, reach for something and try to do something that wasn't expected of me. And my experience, you know, with being a mom and an artist is like its own other thing. But you know, my experience with having my husband also being an artist has been interesting to navigate. And you know, my experience in the last couple of years has been, you know, a lot of me at home with the girls, while Ryan's out on site painting murals. So I wanted to call attention to what my experience has been because I think, you know, with having whatever size Instagram following or whatever, you know, that I wanted to share with the people that are kind of following along that it's like not all, you know, cute Instagram pictures and I wanted to kind of depict like the reality of it. Which is like, yeah, me alone with the girls a lot and navigating this very white state with two little black girls. And I don't have a firm grip on how you're entirely supposed to do that. And, you know, kind of learning together, I guess.
Ashley [00:28:04] And a lot of butt-wiping in between. We're both moms of young children. So I hear you, I see you on all those fronts, you know? Yeah, you have this unique experience and perspective and I would love to hear what it is like to be an artist with two little ones and navigating that as both pride and handing down of knowledge, but also the struggle of maintaining your identity as a woman and an artist. And then also having a spouse that you very much kind of work at home together. You know, you've created this business. Dive a little deeper into those those things.
Rachel [00:28:57] Yeah, so I mean, when Ryan and I met, you know, we both had art practices and we're at varying states of that. But Ryan's has always been kind of commercial, so when we decided to start a family, I kind of was like, look, you're out here making money doing this, you need to go. So like, we'll have this kid and I'm just going to tap out and I'm going to, I'll be the one at home. I got it and you go, you go get this done pretty much was kind of the pep talk I gave him. So, during that time I really didn't make that much, and I was definitely, now in hindsight, I had a little bit of the postpartum, which didn't even occur to me that that was what was happening because I also, like didn't have eyes on me. I was just like alone all the time. And by the time we had our second daughter, I was like, look, I'm not letting what happened before happened this time, and I have to force myself to start creating again and whatever that may look like. And that just so happened to coincide with 2020. So it was like as soon as I decided to do something creative, it was like right at the same time where people were like, look at black creatives. So it like kind of time-wise just so happened to be that that's how that got catapulted to kind of the spot that it's at now. But in terms of being, you know, a mom and an artist, you know, apparently it's like frowned upon? You know, like you're not supposed to, you're not supposed to do that. You're supposed to, you know, just be all about your paintings and eat cans of baked beans and not want expensive things and only talk about other artists. And I just like, I'm like, so not into that. And like I remember, I had a friend who like asked when I was having a second kid, like if I was worried about my studio practice. I was just like, yeah, if I die and my gravestone says, she painted a lot like, that's such a miss. Like, I like want to live a full life. I had a, you know, my mom was a single mom, three kids, and make something every day. And that's my model of success. Is that like if this woman with three giant ass kids who eat everything in sight could like, take care of us, put us through these amazing schools and still at the end of the day, want to make something, like that to me is the most pure and true form of being an artist. So that's the example I had. And so I just hope that for my kids, you know, they say whatever it is that they are interested in-kind of hope it's not art–but whatever they're interested in, like we both as parents just hope that they see that, you know, we're following our passion and trying to figure out that middle ground of like enjoying it and making it so that we can live off of it. So, we always kind of joke around where it's like, we're not artists to follow the rules, you know? So all those things that we're told we're supposed to do or not do or, you know, having kids is a distraction and all of these things, it's like, yeah, I can do what I'm doing with kids. And I mean, I just quit my full time job in June. So I had the two kids, my nine to five corporate project manager job, I started my company, and I was doing paintings with two kids. So if someone's going to tell me that having kids is a distraction from your artwork, then I got to call bullshit once again because being an artist is something you have to do from within. You know, it's not a list of accolades that you just list off, so that's what I hope to exude. And I mean, it's how I live, you know, I don't know.
Ashley [00:33:06] So when you hear the word art practice or studio practice, what does that mean for you?
Rachel [00:33:14] Yeah, you know, it's it's changed a lot. You know, I just went on like a rant on, how you can do it with kids, but that being said, it's not without challenges, obviously. So, I mean, you know, so it's not like my kids sit in the corner and patiently watch me paint and everything's wonderful, like it's a shit show. So, you know, I've had to adapt and I rely on my iPad a lot more than I ever have. So like pre-kids, you know, maybe I would sit and draw with paper for extended periods of time but now it's kind of like on my iPad either I can hand it to my kid to distract them, or I can use it while they're distracted with something else to quickly do whatever I want to do or play out ideas without the risk of taking out paint and making a mess. So, yeah, so the studio practice, you know, we don't have a studio, a designated studio space we have our basement, technically it's supposed to be the studio, but it's just like where all the baby apparatuses go to die. So I don't, I mean, no one wants to be down there. So like, the studio practice is like, kind of like the iPad while watching trashy TV.
Ashley [00:34:32] It's like, not this dedicated time, you fit it in where it's adaptable, and I think it's a struggle when you first become a mom. Yeah, I definitely as a designer, yeah, I hear all that. I think a lot of people see it as a sacrifice, but really what it is is you have to adapt and you actually kind of break down who you were and you become stronger in a different way. I mean, I'm so much more productive now than I was before I had kids, even though that sounds totally counterintuitive.
Rachel [00:35:08] No, it makes total sense to me. I mean, I wasn't painting every day before.
Ashley [00:35:17] So, what is a piece of work or a body of work that you're most proud of?
Rachel [00:35:20] It's these paintings I just did of me and the girls. I just did two and now I have a whole series kind of mentally blocked because it's kind of funny because I feel like our online presence is pretty wholesome, but like, we're actually kind of trashy people, you know like our kids know what fireball shots are. We're not this like, I don't know. So like the paintings I just did are from these photos that Jill Hoyle took of me and the girls, and I got asked to have photos done for this underwear company Arq. So these pictures are like, you know, even though we're in our underwear, it's like cute, wholesome family moments or whatever that are also kind of like loaded in its imagery. But now that that's out there and I've like broken the ice with that, now I have all these other pictures of like the real shit, and that's now what I'm dipping into. So like the one I'm working on right now, it's a picture that Ryan took of me and I'm in bed breastfeeding my oldest while I'm eating chicken wings in bed, and that's the picture that's going to be the painting, because that was my life. You know, I would order po'boys chicken wings and chocolate milkshakes and like, that was all I did. So we have all these pictures of me like breastfeeding and like funny places or like places that were like kind of cringe worthy to public where I had no shame. And, you know, because the best advice that we got for parenting was to welcome the kids to our life and not change everything we do just because we had decided to have kids. So like, I don't want anyone listening to think like, I'm not a good mom by any means, but like we still had friends that didn't have kids so like we would take our kids to the bar, I would have a beer and breastfeed in the middle of the bar, it wasn't the first time my boobs would be out in a bar in my lifetime so it's like not that big a deal. And so I just didn't want to be the mom that was like never going to go out again or like, didn't honor who I was before. Because like, before kids, I was like, really fun and I like didn't want to stop being a fun person. So that's now the side that I'm like leaning into, you know, not in a destructive way. I don't want anyone to question what's going on at home, but at the same time, like, we have fun and I think that's, that's a good thing.
Ashley [00:38:00] Yeah, I mean, and more than just fun like, it's real. They're definitely, you know, we live in the age of Instagram, where all of a sudden we're getting peeks–air quote–peeks into people's lives when really there's a varying degree of authenticity there and this shit's real, man. Being a mom, artist or not. No matter what you're trying to do, run your own business, work for someone else, single mom, partnered, whatever it is. It is single handedly the thing that's going to rip you apart and you're going to become a whole different person in some ways, but it can't just happen overnight. There has to be this evolution and at the very essence you want to keep who you are. And I love that image. I love Arq. And there isn't anything more fascinating, I think, to explore and raw than especially new motherhood. So I can't wait to see what that looks like. What are you most excited about? Is it this current work that you're moving into?
Rachel [00:39:11] Yeah, you know, it's pretty awesome not having a day job, not going to lie. This whole money side of it, not as fun to navigate on this side. But I'm excited about–it's going to sound weird–but I'm kind of excited that I don't know what's going to happen. You know, when I had my day job and everything, you know, it was kind of like Groundhog's Day in a way before where I was just kind of like, I knew the outcome of every day. But since quitting my job, you know,and I kind of knew this before, but it's just being able to be open to experiences and opportunities and so, you know, like before–I don't know, Ryan's friend owns a print shop in Spain, and he just got this like massive space and he was like, hey, you guys want to come paint murals there? And if I had my day job, I'd be like, no, I gotta project manage, sorry. But now it's like, we're going to Spain, we're going to go paint, you know? And like, that is kind of the part that I'm the most excited about is that I have no idea where this is taking us. I have no idea. For all I know, I'm going to be like designing diapers in a year. Like I don't know what it's going to be. Honestly, I could end up back at a corporate day job. I don't know. But I kind of like, right now I'm most excited about not knowing where it's going and being in a position to be open to that. And yeah, have the experience of playing out a couple of different scenarios and now, yeah, I mean, I hope it can only get better, right? You would hope.
Ashley [00:40:55] It will, it will. Those leaps are so scary. I don't know if it was like this for you, but like the times I left a job there were moments of deep despair, risk and everything. But then someone recently said to me, when you have those times, those moments or days, whatever it is, you're looking at yourself in this small viewfinder and you're not seeing the whole picture and you have to step away and see. And there is days that it's terrifying but then for the most part, what else are you going to do? We have one life to live.
Rachel [00:41:40] Mhmm. Yeah, that's where I land too.
Ashley [00:41:44] You spend a lot of time painting, but you recently did some quilting and I love it, and I want to hear a little bit about where that came from, the inspiration, but also what that meaning was.
Rachel [00:41:59] Yeah. So similar to not having the guts to like, interject subject matter into my paintings, I think, you know, I had been painting all these patterns and geometric stripes and all these things. But in my head, I knew that I was like plotting quilts, but I like was way too, I don't know if it was like nervous or like also not technically knowing how to do it. There was like some fear there, and when I was in this residency, it was like a similar thing where I was kind of just like, fuck it, like, this is what I've been wanting to do. Now my paintings make sense to me because they were actually sketches for these quilts. And you know, I love this now idea of like creating these different sized and oddly shaped quilts that maybe there's the potential for me to have those in like family lifestyle photographs that I then do paintings of. So like it's embedded within, like I love everything coming together in a way like that. And so the quilts to me are kind of just an ingredient into what could later become a painting. Or maybe the artwork is the quilt itself. But it's been really fun. I technically don't really know how to quilt. It's been kind of like this made up process, and my mom is actually like an incredible quilter and we had a show at New Systems here in Portland and my mom like afterwards was like, yeah, we got to talk about these. And I was like, no mom, everyone really likes them and she was like, yeah, there's just a couple of things we're going to have to work out. And I was like, alright, so. So I am excited because I did just dive in. But there's some like technical holes that I am lacking just on the finishing end. So I'm excited to now kind of go back and maybe learn how to quilt and then find the middle ground between my improvizational style and a traditional quilter.
Ashley [00:44:14] And I literally was just going to say, this is almost a metaphor for what we were talking about earlier, where there are these ideas of like what is and who's to say we have to adapt to that or not. I mean, yes, there might be certain things that make certain things easier, but at the same time, like you navigating that and like figuring out your own way, go back down to the earliest time that quilting or someone actually sewed with the needle and thread and like that is part of it. I mean, we never want to stop learning right and gaining skills, but don't ever lose that essence and rawness of like what you just did because I think metaphorically it speaks a lot more to you taking that leap, and it's a big one.
Rachel [00:45:05] No, it totally is. And I think even when it comes to my painting practice, you know, when basically like when I help Brian paint his murals, his murals are so like anal retentive like hard straight lines, like they have to be perfect kind of thing. And it's the exact opposite of like anything I want to be doing. But I help because I'm supportive and I like I realize, though, that I need to stop thinking of it as this like form of torture and that I need to think of it as just like an apprenticeship or like some form of training so that when I go and do my things like I have these like tricks or I know I can hit lines a certain way better than I could before, even if it's still my style, it's just a little cleaner, which is what I would want. Like, I'm kind of like always like a C student. And I think going through like the boot camp with Ryan or like the boot camp with my mom, like I could get to like a solid B and like, that's all. That's what I'm striving for. I'm not striving for, like the perfection, perfect triangles meeting everywhere, but like-
Ashley [00:46:19] Make it like a little easier on yourself. I get it. And there definitely is something to be said for like these generations and generations of skills, for sure, and just through your interpretation and what that means. So think of an idea or a phrase or a thought, or an intention that you want to leave listeners with.
Rachel [00:46:46] I don't have the perfect phrase for it, but I will say that it is way more fun to be yourself than to try to be someone else.
Ashley [00:47:03] This week's giveaway is sponsored by Barrett Wool Co., and we're giving away a Nightfall Doll Kit designed by Susan B. Anderson. Each kit includes a printed cotton project bag filled with enough of Barrett Wool Co.'s Home Worsted Weight yarn to make all three Nightfall Dolls featured in the latest issue of Making, DUSK. To enter this giveaway, download our new app Making from the iOS or Android App Store and leave a comment on today's podcast episode post. Find us in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store with a search for "Making." You can also enter by commenting on today's episode blog post at makingzine.com. The biggest of thanks to everyone involved in this week's episode, Rachel, Barrett Wool Co., the Making team and our producer, Alice Anderson. I hope you'll join me each week as we talk and learn from more fascinating makers. For podcast notes and transcription visit makingzine.com. Have a wonderful week!