RISD XYZ Spring/Summer 2018

Page 96

EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK WH E N Rachel Grobstein MFA 13 PT left Brooklyn for the Roswell Artist-in-Residence (RAiR) program in New Mexico last fall, she “wanted to engage with the sky and stars.” In when I close my eyes, the resulting solo exhibition that ran from mid November to early January at Roswell Museum and Art Center, she presented a series of “collections of junk”— including painted cutpaper miniatures mounted to the wall with pins to create tiny constellations of objects. “The work began with space mythology and my obsession with space junk,” says Grobstein — “defunct satellites and rockets collecting in our atmosphere almost like floating landfills.” Unlike the space junk swirling around out of sight, however, the artist’s miniature tableaus compel viewers to reconsider everyday objects from their own bedside tables or junk drawers.


Find out more about Rachel at rachelgrobstein.com.

“I’m interested in the way these collections create complicated portraits speaking to everything from dreams and sex to memory and self-maintenance.” “I’m interested in the way these collections her eye out for opportunities like RAiR that can create complicated portraits speaking to every“change the whole ballgame.” thing from dreams and sex to memory and selfCase in point: while in New Mexico Grobstein maintenance,” Grobstein explains. “[The work] found herself newly obsessed with photographing engages with the tradition of still life, cataloguing roadside memorials. “They’re a form of folk art,” a world of repetition, consumer culture and routine.” she says. “People pile up plush teddy bears, colorGrobstein’s creative interest in people’s junk ful fake flowers, seasonal decorations… building and what it says about them dates back to the these insane, beautiful accumulations of stuff that beginning of her MFA studies at RISD, when she paint portraits of the people who died there.” performed a standup comedy routine about the — Simone Solondz contents of her kitchen drawer. “The assignment was part of a first-semester grad seminar on drawing taught by [Associate Professor of Painting] Kevin Zucker 00 PT,” she recalls. “I thought a monologue about birthday candles, magnets and packets of soy sauce would be funny. But it ended up being kind of profound.” Grobstein also remembers her first crit with Painting Professor Dennis Congdon 75 PT, who remained “completely silent for a very long time” while studying her tight, meticulous miniature paintings on paper. “I had never before experienced that quality of high-intensity attention,” she explains. Since graduating, she has begun working in gouache and making more sculptural work she describes as “2.5-D”— reflecting her growing interest in dimensionality and shadow. In her practice as well as her work teaching and mentoring teenage artists in NYC, Grobstein still finds herself “actively negotiating conversations [she] had in grad school.” She also keeps

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