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Davis, Rachel

oil painting
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Rachel Davis received her M.F.A. in printmaking from the University of Wisconsin in 1997. Rachel makes abstract prints, paintings and installations. She has shown her work in national venues including, the Holter Museum of Fine Art in Helena, MT, Evergreen Galleries, Olympia, WA and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in Madison, WI. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.


These paintings are inspired in part by a field guide to shells, a book I chose for the form, color and texture of its contents. The images within this field guide became a jumping-off point to create new forms and compositions. I was drawn to the shape of the shell, for its slick inside and textured surface, its range of color and its similarity to our bodies.

My formal process is one of play and experimentation. Formally, I try to combine a range of surfaces and colors within an image. I join highly textured surfaces with flat, opaque areas. I use color and texture to create a setting for interactions to take place, analogous to human interactions.

Each painting consists of layers of paint that are sanded, or carved into to reveal previous layers. I build up the paint surface and work back through existing layers, varying this technique by alternating thick, opaque layers and thin glazes of color. Shells are a natural starting point. Their sheer variety of form and color inspire a new visual vocabulary.

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