This is 5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in Under the Radar, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from Rachel Frank.
What are you trying to communicate with your work?
My work uses sculpture, video, and performance to explore the tensions between the natural world and the manmade. Mixing environmental theory, political activism, and research into natural history, my work makes connections between personal histories and contemporary issues concerning the natural world, extinction, and loss that we collectively face today.
What is an artist’s responsibility?
I personally think an artist has a responsibility to continually question themselves and the world around them. I think they should strive to be honest and truthful about what they are making and why. I think this sounds easy in theory, but many artists have a hard time not latching onto trends and making what they perceive the market wants. It’s not easy to make yourself continually vulnerable by thematizing what you are really interested in, regardless of its currency, since it makes the prospect of rejection more difficult.
Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not)?
Vessels, 2017, Single-channel HD Video Still
I’m probably like many artists in that I’m most excited about the project or projects I am working on at the present moment. One of my on-going sculptural video projects, Vapors, features human performers wearing masks of an extinct woolly rhinoceros and woolly mammoth—two animals from the last wave of extinctions of Megafauna at the end of the Ice Age—who, transported in time, carry out a fragmented dialogue on Anthropogenic shifts, transitions, and upheavals in the landscape. The most recent iteration of the project, Vessels expands upon this project, examining the historical ways man divined the future and sought influence over natural processes. Vessels is being presented at Hunter College in the Thomas Hunter Projects space with an opening reception on Friday, December 8.
Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:
I don’t want to say never, but I would love to work on a large-scale production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, from the sets to the costumes and staging, drawing a closer connection to the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. It would be amazing to have the space to think both about small features like how Oberon’s headdress might respond to a particular scene to larger questions like how staging might change the lighting and narrative of an individual character.
Who are three artists we should know but probably don’t?
I feel like there are many artists out there that should be known but are still emerging, so this is a difficult question. If I had to pick three, I’m really interested in artists at the moment who are mixing various genres in exciting new ways: Brian Zegeer uses an eclectic mixture of video, sculpture, and drawing in his work exploring both Appalachian narratives from his birthplace and his Lebanese heritage. Susan Metrican is a Boston-based artist who mixes theatricality into her sculptural paintings exploring a bodily relationship between objects and perception. Wiena Lin’s works imagine a post-Anthropocene world of human-made objects, mixing invented archeology, technology, and sculpture. There are many more, but these three fall into the above criteria in interesting ways.
—The ArtSlant Team
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(Image at top: Rachel Frank,Vapors, 2017, Single Channel Hd Video Still)