Rachel creates textile sculptures that complement the landscape like architecture. The world is a backdrop that is always changing and Rachel’s installations do not lay static. Instead, they blow in the wind and let light shine through. They complement the bluest skies and burst bright on cloudy days.
While the patterns and shapes appear ordered in contrast to the landscape they find themselves, Rachel’s work is proof that our perception of nature is often ephemeral.
I developed a love of materials, textures and processes while studying textiles and fiber art as an undergraduate student. Sewing, dyeing fabrics and weaving in particular are processes that I learned early on and continue to use to this day. As a child growing up I remember my family having amazing collections of textiles around the house, and through the years I have also amassed a vast collection of various textiles that I have studied, surrounded myself with, and have been influenced by. My husband is a painter whom I have been working in close proximity to for nearly 20 years, and subsequently, I have also been influenced by the concepts and formal languages of abstract painting.
As my work has gradually grown larger in scale and more site specific, I have become very interested in the functionality of architecture and spacial design as well. In my philosophical blender, I combine the processes I learn from fiber arts, the physicality and environmental sensitivities of sculpture and other forms of construction, and the mark-making and intuitive romance of painting to create my hybrid art.
When I first began my career, I wanted to challenge the dialog that often surrounded my work in relation to craft and specifically the process of sewing. Out of frustration, I created work as large and as bold as I possibly could–as if that would deem it more masculine, therefore more powerful–all while using delicate materials and building with tiny stitches. Though I continue to work on a large and sometimes even monumental scale, the work has revealed so much more to me over time. I see landscape drawings, utilitarian textiles fading in the sun, stained glass chapels, Mid Century stripe paintings, monolithic sculptures, theater backdrops, sacred cloth, provisional shelter, modern Americana quilts, and much more.
I hope [viewers] will also experience more subtle and ephemeral nuances such as the changing light and shifting shadows or the sound of fabric rustling in the breeze.
I use materials such as silk, polyester, nylon and tulle which are associated with various types of clothing construction and fashion, and techniques such as weaving, flag stitching and log-cabin quilting to create beautiful and rigorously physical sculptures, installations and experiences. I lead viewer’s eyes with scale and the ordered construction of bright color, yet hope they will also experience more subtle and ephemeral nuances such as the changing light and shifting shadows or the sound of fabric rustling in the breeze. My work is sensitive to my location.
Different stages of my life and how I see myself in the world affect my artistic inquiry. Whether I am working on an intimate scale model, bringing an idea to life in my studio, or on location with my family arranging fabric constructions in the desert, I feel that I am changing the world, by adding and responding to it.
Photos courtesy of Rachel Hayes
Rachel Hayes currently lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband and two children. She has an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and her work has been exhibited in many forms throughout the country. Learn more via her portfolio, linked here.