February 21, 2017
How long you have been a customer at SalonCapri?
Since about 1997.
What was your family’s connection to Tokyo, where you were born?
I was born in Tokyo when my father, a college professor, was on a two year Fulbright Scholarship. I lived there off and on in childhood. I’m living in Brooklyn, New York now but also have a permanent base in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where I have spent a portion of every summer of my life.
How did you end up in Gloucester, MA for awhile?
Historically, Cape Ann has been a place that has drawn artists and poets such as Edward Hopper and Charles Olsen who found beauty and inspiration in the rocks, water and the light. I always return because of the combination of the natural beauty and the fact that family still gather there.
What was your very first piece of art that was displayed publicly?
When I was in high school, I made two small abstract drawings on paper with colored felt-tip pens. They were a formal exercise of some sort – all lines in red, yellow, and blue, which incidentally remind me of the Chiral Lines drawings series I’m currently making. My art teacher encouraged me to put them in an exhibition. I did, and they were subsequently stolen off the wall. I was both flattered and disappointed.
The first mature work I ever displayed publicly was a large drawing with collage on paper that I made that took all term to make; I was attending the summer program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Each day I would spend a little time adding to the drawing, which was actually handwritten text of my interior monologue layered over and over so as to become something else. I was accepted to the Diploma program at the Museum School based on that drawing. Nobody stole it, but it ultimately won First Prize in the Student Drawing Show that fall.
What is your all-time favorite work of art that you created and why is it your favorite?
Once the work is made, I don’t spend a whole lot of time re-thinking or looking at it. I am generally on to the next idea. So I guess I’d have to say my favorite is the one I’m going to make tomorrow.
Your work encompasses drawing, sculpture, collage, installation, video, photography, and social media. Do you find a particular medium more expressive than the other?
I’m most interested in the idea stage, when I have the little idea, the germ, the not-quite-formed thought that gets me thinking and making. From there the material is necessarily derived. Then there is a lot of experimentation. I am always working on about a dozen or more things at one time. Some will never get beyond my brain to my hands.
How would you describe the art scene in Boston?
There is a vibrant art scene in Boston. We are fortunate to have a reservoir of talented art makers. With so many colleges and universities in the Greater Boston area, we have many wonderful spaces with good programming. And these are free to the public, as are the galleries which host “First Fridays” events all year.
What’s it like to see your work in the pages of Vogue or The New York Times?
The exposure to my work that these opportunities garner is fantastic, with more people seeing my work than I could ever hope for. And then it’s no longer the newest news, and you move on. While I’m always happy to have recognition like that, the real thrill is in the making of the work.
What would you recommend we check out the next time we visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston?
I could send you on a treasure hunt at the Gardner! When I was Artist-in-Residence, I worked on something I called the Looking Project. I chose one thing each day, a sculpture, painting, or drawing and stood in front of it for an hour, just looking. It was remarkable what you can still find, what you can suddenly see, even towards the end of an hour.
I would suggest stopping to take in the flora in the Courtyard, as the horticultural staff changes it four times a year. One of my favorite pieces is the Whistler painting Nocturne, Blue and Silver: Battersea Reach in the Yellow Room. It’s a little hard to see as you crane your neck a bit, and you’re looking at a murky seascape which doesn’t seem to be giving the viewer anything, but after a few moments, your eyes adjust, and the picture begins to reveal itself. I find it a tender and extremely quiet expression of a foggy dusk on the Thames River in London.
The ICA by turn always has new exhibits rotating, so you never know what you’ll find. One of my favorite works by a local artist was a drawing on the Fineberg Wall made by Ethan Murrow. He uses ballpoint pen to draw slightly surreal, fantastic images of himself as fictional characters directly on the wall at a grand scale. His piece, Seastead, was monumental.
Any upcoming exhibits coming down the pike that you can tell us about?
The first print I ever made at Tamarind Institute was just shown in New York at the Print Fair, as I type this I’m on my way back from Paris where my work hangs at the Grand Palais for Paris Photo. March 2 – 5, I’ll be showing new work at the Armory Show with my gallery, Yancey Richardson, in New York.
What do you like about your typical cut and color from Laura and Gina Penna?
Laura and Gina are masterful at what they do, and they are also lovely people. I go back because I know what I want and they know what I want, and I’m never disappointed. When I did the Vogue shoot, the New York make-up and hair people wanted to know where I got my color done because they thought it looked so good. I think they were expecting Fekkai or Sally Hershberger and I loved being able to tell them, “SalonCapri in Newton, Massachusetts!”
Rachel’s hair color and style: Laura Penna Shaw, SalonCapri Dedham Legacy Place
Rachel’s cut and styles: Gina Penna, SalonCapri Dedham Legacy Place
Rachel’s makeup: Santina Sharpe, SalonCapri Dedham Legacy Place
Rachel’s clothing (Alexander McQueen coat, Lanvin turtleneck and Ann Demeulemeester pants): Alan Bilzerian, Newton and Boston
Photography: Christopher Padgett