Elements of cement are becoming part of my sculpture this year. I form the cement pieces inside a variety of plastic and rubber forms. Mixing in pigments when I cast the cement allows for a myriad of associations. I intend to continue to explore this relationship between wood and cement and the contrast between how each is formed.
I have been working in solitude for the last six months, exploring intimate places and spaces after a year of personal and medical issues that brought out a myriad of feelings.
Everything in my life is material which I forage for sculptural ideas.
I express myself most clearly and in fact find myself in the forms I create. I learn so much as I drop into the sculptural process. While the work speaks to me it also speaks powerfully to others as well.
Parts and Wholes
2014 has been a year of transition and person challenge. Out of those experiences have come these two large freestanding sculptures.
Each of my sculptures follows and builds on the previous sculpture. I continue to learn about my forms and materials, what they can do for me, how I can express myself. After finishing a sculpture I find that there is something I discovered that needs further exploration and that pushes me towards the next piece of art making.
While making “Rayne” I programmed my camera to take an image every 60 seconds. With those images I created a video that describes my construction process.
This is the third of a series of large freestanding pieces that I created while my partner was being treated for cancer.
When I place my sculpture in a solo exhibit I continue my creative process, all the sculpture together is an installation, there is a conversation between the pieces, and I engage and invite the public into that dialogue.
My sculptures emerge from relationships, relationships with myself, with other people and the world around me. When I begin a new project I take pencil, eraser and drawing book in hand. Through drawings I transform my experiences into forms. I find myself returning again and again to images that refer to how I am being in my life, it is a place where I discover myself. I express myself through basic forms that are evocative, universal and deeply human. Elements of the sculptures tend to come together and pull apart, support and hold, touch and press on another. In this way they speak to me of living a human life engaged in the world. Although I have a personal story that will accompany any particular sculpture, what is important is that the sculpture I create are built on references that are available to speak to others. I am a sculptor not a writer, I strive to create work that will connect and stimulate a response from the audience without their needing to read up about it, the response is visceral.
The audience response to my exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 2011 was amazing. I felt encouraged. When I begin a new project, I trust my intuition and I choose a stretch, a leap into the unknown. That is where I grow. I draw, I establish the emotion of the sculpture, and begin to build. I also understand that there are elements of the sculpture which will be discovered as I build. I invite those moments I feel that I am in a conversation with the sculpture as it emerges. This is especially true for large freestanding sculptures. I was preparing for an exhibit in Washington. I set a challenge for myself in form and scale.
I decided to photograph the sculpture during construction to help describe my process.
I spent several months finding my way through this sculpture. “Before Midnight” draws the viewer into its inner space, one end is a container bound tightly with vines that wrap and hold it together, the other end is an expansive and open. It is big enough to crawl inside and seems to invite the viewer into its cavity.
During the winter of 2013 I participated in an artist residency at the Vermont Studio Center. The experience of working along side other artists of varied disciplines was energizing. I made several smaller sculptures and experimented with my materials. Most notably, I laminated thin strips of wood together creating my own plywood, long curved strips of wood, which I incorporated into sculptures. Looking back on the sculptures that followed that residency I see that although I have not repeated the plywood construction process, I have used ribbons of curved wood repeatedly.
I look for inspiration in natural and man made forms. Sometimes I go out into fields that are overgown to hunt for interesting vines. I found this group of vines wrapped around each other hanging from a tree. While the vines are fresh I bend them into shapes that will be incorporated into my sculpture. I choose vines for a variety of reasons. Most importantly vines give me a long flowing line that is thinner and stronger then anything I can construct out cedar. The texture of the surface of the vine is very expressive. I manipulate the vines and place them in a new environment, in this way I make them my own. The color that I rub into the surface of my sculptures is oil paint. I use the paint to help define the shape and express the movement of the sculpture. There are images of the sculpture from various angles, a few shots during construction, and some images of it in an installation with other sculptures.
Baltimore Museum of Art
In 2011 I exhibited my sculpture in the large vaulted gallery at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The size of the room and the ceiling height allowed me to be creative in the way I arranged the sculptures. I was inspired by the space and built the sculpture “Dream” specifically for the exhibit.
In my studio I work on one sculpture at a time. While a sculpture is emerging it monopolizes my attention, I am wrapped up in my relationship with it and what I want to express as well as what the sculpture demands from me. When the sculpture is complete I move it out of my studio to make room for another relationship. It is distracting for me to have sculptures in the studio when I am pursuing a new idea. Designing an exhibit is another layer of creative opportunity for me. I see the sculptures whole and fresh in a new environment, I see how they interact with one another and finally I see how they speak to the public. I find myself connected to a larger world.
I have selected a series of wall sculptures . Once I have a drawing for my sculpture I consider the appropriate size to express the form most effectively. I think about a person standing in front of the work. What is at eye level? How intimate? What will you see up close, what will you see from a distance?
Rachel Rotenberg creates an aesthetic world of wood sculpture populated by sensually curving surfaces, intriguingly formed negative spaces, and forceful volumes. The artist begins her process by drawing in a sketchbook. Using sticks of cedar lumber she builds her sculptures. Evocative stains and colors are... more