You also created a series of paintings on the same topic, “Playing with fate”.
Yes, I did a lot of paintings about gambling because I felt like gambling really relates to that topic, too. I did a show back in 2019, a whole painting show in Las Vegas, which is like the place. So, I had all these paintings about risk taking, fate and life choices and I took the slot machine as a kind of anthropomorphic life map, if that makes sense. I used the slot machine symbols and I love the colour palette of these symbols and the psychology behind them and behind desirable outcomes for people. Then, I implemented that kind of research into my paintings, and I feel like I’m implementing that into photography, too.
After the “Playing with Fate” series, I continued with the same theme but I’ve included a lot more of natural substances and nature in it. The reason is that after the series, I went on one of those road trips, you know, the van life, where I explored all these different national parks. There, I received the same sense of grounding, the same sense of meditation to contemplate my life, in the same sense that I was doing with my paintings. So now, I’ve transferred these natural elements into my work, becoming a little more abstract. Nature is my grounding right now but it still has all the same elements as I was previously doing.
A bit more of a practical question, now: could you please share your creative process with us, how you get from an idea to a finished piece?
I think of life, of everything as inspirational. The first thing I probably do is to take photos – if I have my iPhone I’m taking pictures, if I have my camera I’m taking pictures. When I see something, that’s how I then tend to writing about it. I see something, I take photos to remember exactly what I want & what inspires me and then I have a journal that I continuously write in. The writing is what helps me to develop a process and a consistent idea. The idea could be a particular theme, or maybe it would be an exact painting where I know that I want to use certain materials. My process is actually more of a documentary style and then I turn to the creative side of it. Writing is a really big part of how I get to my ideas, too.
On your website I read that you’re working on a new series, would you like to share more about it?
Absolutely! I’m going to be doing a show in February 2023, the name will be “Biophilic Harmonies”. It is about faith and life choices and risk taking and chance, all of these elements from my previous themes. This time, I’m exploring it in a sense of nature because nature is the primal source that we as humans have for a sense of grounding, a sense of meditation in a way to think clearly. There is a feeling that you get from nature, and I want to recreate that for internal spaces.
I’ve been doing a lot of work with some staging companies, and I’ve had lots of projects where someone would say: “Oh, I have this sofa, and I would like you to make a piece that goes with this.” In my mind, for these beautiful modern spaces, the most important thing is to make it feel like you’re part of nature even though you’re inside. So, this new project is like a mixture of interior design and nature versus Fine Art, where I’ve been trying to bridge that gap. In the biophilic harmonies there’s real plants in my artworks, there’s air plants, there’s dried plants, there’s lots of texture and lots of colours that are more associated with nature, associated with grounding. Every single piece has a plant-like element or a plant-like form in it, to have that meditative energy that you can get from nature and to implement that into the modern space.
What advice would you give to emerging artists, especially those at the very beginning of their career?
Honestly, my advice is (and this might sound cheesy, but): just keep going and keep applying because the only way that I ever got any of my work out there, that I got sales, is because I’m just so consistently applying. Every spare moment I have I look for opportunities. It’s not just like having one gallery show. It’s applying for so many things and for me, the most important thing is residencies, as well. It’s a way for you to be in a more academic environment around other artists, getting feedback and direct responses and being able to work collaboratively. Working collaboratively, at least for me, is probably the best thing as an emerging artists because I learn from other artists and there’s so much to learn about how to be an artist. I never think that working by yourself it going to be the best thing, it’s about working with people.
So, that would be my advice: apply to opportunities, apply to residencies. You’re going to get a million rejections, but you’re also going to get acceptances. And the more you apply, the more you understand how the applications work.
And my last question for you: what are your hopes for your future as an artist?
I hope to progress. I’m really happy with what I’m doing right now, I feel lucky and I feel blessed, but I hope to take it to the next level. To be in more shows, to be in more residencies, bigger opportunities. I do have so many goals that I want to attain and all of them are more of what I’m doing right now.
Get in touch with Rachel
All Photographs courtesy of Rachel Berkowitz
Written, interviewed & edited by Nina Seidel
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