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Rachel Selekman
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Bedford-Stuyvesant



ARTIST STATEMENT: In my sculptures, reference to the human body, the use of everyday objects, fine craftsmanship, and the dynamism of elements that literally reach out to the viewer are paramount. The recent sculptures, until the past year or so, explored the dynamics of relationships, of intimacy. "The Conversation" and "The Lovers" show two “figures” in this dynamic, whereas "Mouth Wide Open," as a single figure/object, implicates the viewer in the pas de deux. These scenarios take form in mixed-media sculptures that have watering can bases and/or watering can remnants, stand-ins for the human body and skin, respectively.

A wall sculpture sans watering can, "Reveal (Taking Stock 1)," the most recent sculpture, is a departure from the earlier pieces and indicative of the direction of my forthcoming 3D work. I decided about two years ago to start incorporating all the materials I have left over from other pieces into new work. "Reveal," for example, includes almost all the beads, buttons, and sew-ons from my stockpile, as well as leftover fabric, and “taking stock” in the title references this approach.

This self-imposed directive came to be for two reasons: a milestone birthday and the accompanying reflections and my day-to-day life as an avid recycler, composter, and upcycler. With these practices in mind, I thought, why let all these beautiful materials lay fallow in my closet? Moving forward, I will use my stockpile to make visually complex and engaging sculptures.

In addition to sculpture, I make collages, the focus of my output the past few years. They employ a lexicon of images and often vintage materials, where hand sewing and collage are the dominant modes of construction. In "Golden Flow," the crotch form, watch faces cut out of magazines, and gold metallic thread coalesce to address issues of aging and in particular women’s biological clocks. Works from the "Fifty" series are about time passing—a new phase beginning and one ending; sadness and loss versus hope and expectation. In the series, which will number 50 when complete, I am revisiting ideas that have long interested me, working with ones I haven’t had time to focus on, and developing new ideas. The drawings incorporate motifs that have been part of my oeuvre for years (hands, tears, crotch), and new ones: hourglass and watch faces, with the hourglass particularly potent because when the “sand” is in the top of the hourglass, it’s full of potential, whereas, when it’s in the bottom, it’s as if time has run out.

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  • Burst 4 (Taking Stock 2)
    2016
    Watering can scraps, steel, velvet flowers, silicone sealant, and mixed media

  • Double Jewelled Wreath
    2017
    Metallic and cotton thread, rhinestones, and collage on paper

  • Double Jewelled Wreath (detail)
    2017
    Metallic and cotton thread, rhinestones, and collage on paper

  • Reveal (Taking Stock 1)
    2013
    Fabric, thread, sew-ons, buttons, beads, steel, batting, buckram, and snaps

  • Reveal (Taking Stock 1) (detail)
    2013
    Fabric, thread, sew-ons, buttons, beads, steel, batting, buckram, and snaps

  • Double Jewelled Bouquet
    2016
    Sew-ons, beads, rhinestones, thread, and collage on paper
    "Double Jewelled Bouquet" is comprised of magazine cutouts of jewelry in the shape of flowers, a classic motif. To the "bouquet" is sewn vintage sew-ons and rhinestones and contemp

  • Double Jewelled Bouquet (detail)
    2016
    Sew-ons, beads, rhinestones, thread, and collage on paper
    This detail of "Double Jewelled Bouquet" shows the three different types of sew-ons and beads used. Clusters, groupings, and abundance have appeared in both my 2-D and 3-D works, and I'

  • Double Spray
    2016
    Collage on paper

  • Double Spray (detail)
    2016
    Collage on paper

  • The Conversation
    2009
    Watering cans, fabric, thread, buckram, interfacing, batting, glue, steel, and hardware   Larger: 76 3/8 x 8 1/4 x 27 1/2 inches
    "The Conversation" shows two "figures" in dialogue, and is the first piece I made in this body of work. The periscope-like forms that extend from the watering can bases simultaneou

  • Mouth Wide Open
    2009
    Watering can, fabric, thread, interfacing, glue, steel, and hardware   29 x 29 3/8 x 30 inches
    In "Mouth Wide Open," the action is outward, like a scream, and the form of the mouth resembles a gramophone horn. I chose a multicolored fabric for the interior, which I also pleated to add

  • Mouth Wide Open
    2009
    Watering can, fabric, thread, interfacing, glue, steel, and hardware   29 x 29 3/8 x 30 inches
    When you are standing in front of "Mouth Wide Open," you are enveloped by the open form of the "gramophone horn." And you can see into the interior of the watering can itself and n

  • Mouth Wide Open (detail)
    2009
    Watering can, fabric, thread, interfacing, glue, steel, and hardware   29 x 29 3/8 x 30 inches
    This detail shows the raw silk fabric on the interior of the "horn," which I pleated to give it more texture.

  • The Listener
    2010
    Watering can, pieces of watering cans, fabric, thread, steel, wire, wire mesh, buckram, epoxy, silicone sealant, and hardware   39 1/4 x 9 3/8 x 19 inches
    In "The Listener" the action suggested is "taking things in" -- reception and synthesis -- as the title suggests. The pattern in the fabric is like sound waves, pulling in from the

  • The Listener (detail)
    2010
    Watering can, pieces of watering cans, fabric, thread, steel, wire, wire mesh, buckram, epoxy, silicone sealant, and hardware   39 1/4 x 9 3/8 x 19 inches
    This detail not only shows the fabric close up, but it also shows the silicone sealant, which mimics a weld (you can't heat or weld watering cans because they are galvanized and heating galvanize

  • The Lovers
    2010
    Watering can pieces and roses, silicone sealant, epoxy, wire mesh, buckram, and steel   51 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 22 inches
    "The Lovers" shows two "figures" in a swirling embrace, with the "heads" made of two watering can roses.

  • The Lovers (detail)
    2010
    Watering can pieces and roses, silicone sealant, epoxy, wire mesh, buckram, and steel   51 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 22 inches
    With a steel armature underneath, the skin of this piece is made of watering can scraps. Silver silicone sealant is used like Spackle to fill in the space where the different pieces come together.

  • Splash
    2010
    Watering can, steel, fabric, and hardware   35 x 44 1/4 x 42 inches
    In "Splash," three "waves" of water flow out of the watering can. The forms are like the one used in "Mouth Wide Open," but the ethereal metallic blue fabric gives the wo

  • Splash (detail)
    2010
    Watering can, steel, fabric, and hardware   35 x 44 1/4 x 42 inches
    Here you can see the wonderful character and color of the fabric, in particular its flowing, waterlike texture. The choice of fabric is very important and considered in all my work that uses it, and I

  • The Group (or the Family or the Gallery Goers)
    2010
    Watering cans, metal duct, duct clamps, and silicone sealant   Overall size is variable; tallest element: 81 1/2 inches
    "The Group" expands upon "The Conversation" by increasing the number of "figures" from 2 to 7, and it uses ready-made materials. "Gallery Goers" is part of the

  • Tilting Flag
    2017
    Collage on paper
    This collage was made for the "Give Voice" postcard project organized by Eileen Jeng of Neumeraki (https://neumeraki.com/give-voice/).

  • Golden Flow
    2014
    Metallic thread and collage on paper

  • Golden Flow (detail)
    2014
    Metallic thread and collage on paper
    This detail shows the painstaking sewing method used to create the image.

  • Fifty (1)
    2012
    Collage, glass beads, gold cord, and thread on paper   10 x 8 inches
    This is the first drawing in the "Fifty" series, which will be comprised of fifty 8 x 10 inch drawings when complete.

  • Fifty (2)
    2012
    Collage, glass beads and thread on paper   10 x 8 inches

  • Fifty (3)
    2012
    Collage on paper   10 x 8 inches

  • Fifty (4)
    2012
    Collage and tear-shaped sew-ons on paper   10 x 8 inches
    Here black watch faces are employed as well as jeweled tears, a Surrealist nod.

  • Fifty (5)
    2012
    Pencil, gold ink, green paper leaves and thread on paper   10 x 8 inches

  • Fifty (6)
    2012
    Collage on paper   10 x 8 inches

  • Fifty (7)
    2012
    Collage, rhinstones and thread on paper   10 x 8 inches
    In this iconic image, hand, watch face, and hourglass conflate. I like the dimensionality of the watch face against the silhouetted hand and the hourglass outline overlay made from gold rhinestones se

  • Fifty (8)
    2012
    Collage, gold cord and rhinestones on paper   10 x 8 inches

  • Fifty (9)
    2012
    Vintage cord and thread on paper   10 x 8 inches
    This entire drawing is made with vintage cord, in gold and silver, and thread to hold the cord down. The silver cord has variations in color due to its age and oxidation.

  • Fifty (10)
    2012
    Collage, metallic thread, and vintage button on paper   10 x 8 inches

  • Fifty (13)
    2013
    Silver cord, thread, and collage on paper

  • Fifty (14)
    2013
    Gold ink, gold cord, thread, and collage on paper

  • Fifty (15)
    2013
    Gold ink and pencil on paper
    This simple, elegant drawing shows the bottom of the hourglass filled with gold tears, a mournful, melancholy commentary on aging. When a friend saw it, she thought the tears were flower petals, an in

  • Fifty (16)
    2013
    Collage on paper

  • Fifty (17)
    2013
    Tear-shaped sew-ons, thread, and collage on paper

  • Fifty (18)
    2013
    Rhinestones, thread, and collage on paper
    This piece incorporates an hourglass, but it's essentially the "jewel" atop a ring. The hourglass silhouette is made from rhinestones, which have been sewn to the paper, and the interio

  • Fifty (19)
    2014
    Collage on paper

  • Fifty (20)
    2016
    Found bead-and-wire element, thread, and collage on paper

  • Fifty (21)
    2016
    Collage, silver cord, and thread on paper

  • Fifty (22)
    2016
    Collage on paper

  • Fifty (23)
    2016
    Collage on paper

  • Fifty (24)
    2016
    Gold cord, beads, ribbon, sequins, thread, gold ink, and collage on paper

  • Fifty (25)
    2017
    Collage, metallic thread, pencil, and acrylic paint on paper

  • Sequined Garden
    2014
    Metal sequins, thread, and collage on paper
    The ornamental paper used here is called Chiyogami. The next image, which is a detail of this piece, will show it's made.

  • Sequined Garden (detail)
    2014
    Metal sequins, thread, and collage on paper
    I cut out numerous blossoms from this sheet of Chiyogami paper and used them in another piece. I was left with this beautiful but holey piece of paper, so I mounted it to another sheet of paper -- the

  • Purple Sky
    2006
    Thread and glass beads on paper   26 x 19 inches

  • Purple Sky (detail)
    2006
    Thread and glass beads on paper   26 x 19 inches
 








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