Meet Rachel Doniger! Rachel, Welcome to Blue Print! She creates incredible paper reliefs that investigate the graphic potential of white paper. Rachel lives and works in Denver, Colorado. She spends much of her time outdoors observing the natural landscapes that influence her work. More about her and her below!
What or who inspired you to become an artist?
My journey as an artist has been a journey of discovery of the nature of materials and form. Louis Kahn, an absolutely brilliant architect, used to tell his students to look to materials for inspiration. “You say to a brick ‘what do you want’ and the brick says ‘I want to be an arch.’” This is how I approach my work with paper. Everything about my artwork relies on paper’s material qualities. Paper, rather than being a backdrop to another media, is the thing itself.
When did you first start working with paper?
I started working with paper in architecture school because it offered an easy way to test ideas. I’d go into the studio thinking, “I don’t know what to do.” I’d reach for a sheet of paper and my knife and start manipulating it, and I’d see an idea emerge. I’m interested in art as a process because this approach moves me in directions I can’t anticipate.
How has your practice changed over time?
The idea of field has become central to my work. As the viewer’s glance moves from one shape to the next, they see not only a crescendo from low to high, but also the relationship between the two. In this way, the classic opposing relationship of figure and ground (think of a human portrait drawn against a white backdrop) is turned on its head. Figure is no longer an object read against a field, but an effect emerging from the field itself. This focus has prompted me to work at increasingly larger scales. Even when I make a smaller piece, I imagine it as a section of a larger whole.
Can you tell me a little more about the process of creating a relief?
I work in a studio in my home. I have a wall easel equipped with a cutting mat that I use for large pieces and a flat cutting table for smaller work. All of the work is made with gloved hands to avoid transferring oils from my skin to the paper.
Conventional art making starts with an idea that the artist gradually refines until the end when attention is given to the most important details. I approach art making from the opposite direction. Starting at the detail level, I make a series of small cuts and folds. As the details continue to build, the form reveals itself.
What jobs have you done, other than being an artist?
I think creativity, however one chooses to express it- through art, architecture, music or design- is the same thing. I’m working as an artist now, but I’ve also worked as an architect and have taught undergraduate architectural design. These experiences are all part of the work I’m doing now.
Name something you love. Why?
Every summer I take my two daughters, now ages six and eight, on a road trip. I look forward to these trips because they give me uninterrupted time with my girls, but also because I love seeing the world through their eyes. A shift in perspective always leads to new discoveries.
Stop by Blue Print to see her amazing work!