Rachael Van Dyke

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Meet the artist

Rachael Van Dyke

Artist Statement: Growing up in a large Italian family where emotions and energy were high, I learned early on to create quickly, to work collaboratively, and to not become too attached to my work. My mother and father would encourage my six siblings and I to be active outdoors and creative indoors, requiring us at the end of each day to clean up and put away everything we worked on. Knowing that my artwork and exploratory creations would be gone by bedtime I was very quick to design, problem-solve, and build everything I dreamed of making for that day. I learned to say goodbye to my passionate work and looked forward to creating something new and fresh the next day. This childhood dynamic produced a need in me to always be actively exploring and expressing new ideas and materials as an artist. I make work very quickly and intensely, often cutting through the paint surfaces and restating my lines. I want my materials to be bold and work fast with me which is why acrylics are my primary choice of paints. I find myself most comfortable when away from the tradition of easel and am often on my hands and knees actively engaged with the painting, my bare feet exposed to the cool concrete floor of my studio. In the beginning of my artistic career I worked regionally, heading up to northern Michigan for a weekend of plein air painting. I found myself taking photographs that were never looked at again, as my hand seemed to only paint what I experienced in the moment. I realized this way of working was a package; a package of people, place, and landscape that could not be revisited through photographs. Over the course of many years I have made it my intention to participate in numerous art residencies throughout Michigan, the United States, and Europe. These residencies, particularly ones abroad, create boundaries that I am forced to work with and cause me to alter my technique. Most of these obstacles are related to traveling abroad; adjusting to new studio space constraints, change of temperature, lack or loss of art materials, poor foreign language skills, and shipping limitations. These boundaries also create stimulation for me as an artist as I am forced to understand and come to terms with my limitations to see what I can create. I have to be open to a new color palette or a new visual language to express the land, its traditions and people.

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