Rachel Blythe Udell

What are you currently working on?

I’ve been working on a series of embroideries/fabric collages that have to do with life, texture, pattern, relationships, interconnection, biology, and my mother.  (I use a lot of my mother’s clothing in my work.  It is a way for me to connect to her.  She passed away in 2001). I’m also crocheting a granny square-style blanket with tentacle-like protrusions.  Also, I’ve been doing some drawings lately.  I’m always working on at least five different projects at once. Chaos, I tell you!

Are you currently exhibiting your work? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?

I recently had a solo show at the Rocket Cat Café in Fishtown, called Plexus.  I’m always looking for new opportunities to exhibit, and announce my shows in the News section of my website and through social media websites like Facebook. I try to be good about that….

If you had the time and resources to segue into another medium/ or art project, what do you think it might be?

I think I’d like to work very large.  If I had a separate studio space (which I don’t- I work out of my apartment) and maybe a bunch of people to help me I might like to make much larger sculptures and/or 2d-ish pieces.  I’ve been working on these wire pieces over the past year or so that I’d like to see in a larger space.  They are kind of net-like, and I could build them so that they could expand infinitely (or at least to signify infinity.)  Also, I’d love to take voice lessons! I think I was much more musically-inclined as a child.

Do you have any non-visual art interests you’d like to discuss?

So yeah, as I was saying…as a kid I used to be into singing and dancing a lot.  And acting too.  I was more of an extrovert, I guess.  Then in my teens and early twenties, I was more of a writer/introverted.   I used to be quite the avid journal writer.  Nowadays I still write sporadically, though mostly it’s as a specific form of releasing/processing emotion.  I also still write the occasional poem.  I miss writing sometimes.  It seems to be a part of my brain that I don’t use as much, but would like to again.

How would you define your visual style?

Abstract, I guess.  Expressive.   Definitely emotive.  Sometimes symbolic.  Very intuitive.

What themes and concepts does your work generally revolve around?

Life, the building blocks of, the large and tiny things which make it up.  The similarities between the macro and the micro.  Interconnection.  Loss.  Meaning. The human body and biology.  A language of imagery, or more specifically, shapes and forms I’ve developed to convey and explore these concepts.  I have a primordial attraction to certain forms.  I like the concepts of fluidity and interconnection.  Fluidity in the aquatic sense, in the gaseous sense, in the temporal sense.

What’s your background?

I have a B.A. in Art History and have done some studies in Psychology and Art Therapy.  I’ve been making visual art for the past sixteen years, and it is a very personal process for me.

What are you currently reading?

Let’s see…there’s a stack of books on my bedside tables, which is pretty much the norm for me.   I often start quite a few things, then meander back and forth and in and out of them.   Some of the books I’ve been lurking around in include The Biology of Belief, The Demon-Haunted World, Collections of Nothing, and Phantoms in the Brain.  Also The Girl’s Got Bite: The Original Unauthorized Guide to Buffy’s World.  I really quite like contemporary fiction.  Recently I read and loved The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.  I’m now reading The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold.

Music you like:

Always: anything Mary Timony, Low, Bjork, Sleater-Kinney, Brian Eno: Music For Airports.  Neutral Milk Hotel.  Pixies.  Catherine Wheel. Stuff with a good beat.  Things that make me cry.  Things that make me ecstatically happy AND cry.  I really like all kinds of music though, including show tunes and cheesy nostalgic stuff from my childhood.  Lately I’ve only been listening to classical music on the radio in my car.  It has a calming effect on me.

Favorite comic strips/ comic books/ graphic novels?

I love Maus by Art Spiegleman.  Brilliant and so incredibly sad and intense.

Favorite visual artists?

Gosh, a tough one. Eva Hesse and Andy Goldsworthy spring immediately to mind.  I also love a lot of my friends’ work, who continually inspire me: Joanne Sherrow, Iviva Olenick, Joanna Fulginiti, Marie Elcin.  I feel lucky to keep meeting amazing people that inspire me.

Favorite movies?

Rivers and Tides, High Art, Heavenly Creatures, In the Realms of the Unreal, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Delicious!, The Dark Crystal, Brazil, Delicatessen, Nostradamus, The Piano, Spirited Away, Where the Wild Things Are, The Shining,  Rosemary’s Baby, Stardust Memories,  Donnie Darko,  Blade Runner, Solaris.  So many others.  I love movies.

Your website(s):

www.racheludell.com

http://rachellahh.etsy.com

Editor’s Note:
Rachel Blythe Udell is leading a Soft Sculpture and Assemblage workshop this fall at Cheltenham Center for the Arts.

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