Interview with “I’m Fine” Artist Rachael Carruthers

IMFINE-Christopher_Bugtong (20)

This is the fourth installment of the I’m Fine artist interview series.

Rachael Carruthers || UMCP ’17 || Exhibiting in I’m Fine from June 5th through July 28th, 2017 at The Stamp Gallery || University of Maryland, College Park || Interview by Christopher Bugtong

Let’s start with some background information about you. Where are you from, and whatfirst got you into art?

I was born in Sheffield England in 1994 and moved to Takoma Park, Maryland in 2001. I have always been an avid figure drawer ever since I was a very young child and after
taking a ceramic class in my freshman year of high school I began working as a figure
sculptor.
What drove you to pursue a degree in studio art?

I want to continue the work of the femme sculptors before me, and continue carving
room for femmes in sculpture to live and work in their truths. I feel at this point the best
way to do this is to pursue an MFA and then a tenure track teaching position at an
academic institution.

You performed Dirty Laundry on two separate occasions in the Stamp Gallery: once for the filming of the piece, and once again live during the opening reception. What is it like, placing yourself in that performative role under such different circumstances?

My performances, being endurance in nature, always reinvigorate me upon completion.
It is a very rewarding experience to push the limits of one’s patience and fortitude. In
the vulnerable state of being on the floor undressed and exposed during the opening
reception I become so comfortable that I began to drift in and out of sleep after twenty
minutes or so. This particular outcome continues to astound me and causes me to
further reflect on the subject of violence. My exposed body is protected by the public
nature of the event, there is safety in visibility.

Cold Comfort and Dirty Laundry seem to explore the relationship between sculpture and performance/video. What drew you to these art forms, and how do you interpret this relationship emerging in your work?

My sculptures have always revolved around the body and it wasn’t until my fabrication
of Cold Comfort that my sculptures began to be directly related to, and formed from, my
own body. When it came time to display Cold Comfort, it became clear to me that the
presence of my body was important for the audience to understand the conceptual
aspects of the work, and that my physical presence could cause discomfort and intrigue
in the viewer.

Are there any particular artists, art movements, or other concepts that inspire your
current work, or your art overall?

History inspires my work, I study patterns of oppression and resistance. Reading through
testimonials and hearing from femmes within and outside of my community drives me
to make work that probes systems of power.

 

You mention in your description of Cold Comfort that it is the first of your “Pillow
Series”, and your artist statement elaborates further on the process. How do you see each piece within the series distinguish itself and speak to the series as a whole?

Each piece reflects a different aspect of seeking comfort, whether that’s exploring what
comfort is sought from or what transpires to result in needing comfort. I develop these
narrative through the material usage and the position in which the piece relates to the
body.
How do you see Cold Comfort and Dirty Laundry in relationship to the other works of the I’m Fine exhibition?

In these tumultuous times it was interesting to see so many artists turning inward
towards the body and their own personal experiences. It was great seeing such varied
voices battling with similar subject matter through so many different media and
perspectives.

Any future plans for your work and yourself? Upcoming exhibitions? Graduate school?

I am currently attending an artist internship at Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota
and this upcoming winter I will be applying to MFA programs.

For more information on I’M FINE and other upcoming gallery exhibitions, visit thestamp.umd.edu/stamp_gallery

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