The Chamber of Commerce in my area did a piece on my work in the local Prairie Village Post.
Simply scroll down to read the article, or you can view it on the publication’s website.
Local Artist Rachelle Gardner-Roe on the fine art of balance
The recent exhibition of Gardner-Roe’s work at the ArtsKC Regional Council emphasized the textile connections that can be found throughout the artist’s mixed media work.
At the age of 5, if you had asked Rachelle Gardner-Roe what she wanted to be when she grew up, the answer would have been a no-brainer: an artist. We all wanted to be lots of things at the age of 5, but despite the twists and turns of life, Gardner-Roe managed to hold onto her dream.
“I ended up with a degree in interior architecture, rather than going to art school though,” she said. “The interiors portion gave me access to a full woodshop where I could build furniture. Creativity and experimentation basically made that place a sculpture studio.”
That design-build experience also helped her land her first job out of college, designing and building custom furniture at a woodshop. Still, the 5 year old inside wouldn’t stay quiet for long.
“A design education was really grounding,” she said. “It trained me to think in term of function, but I still had all these other ideas and images in my head. I had to come back to the fine arts.”
The artist has spent the last ten years fusing that foundation in design with a unique vision to cross boundaries in media. Whether it’s a 12 foot drawing of Alice in Wonderland-like vegetation, a ceramic vessel fired in a dug-out pit at the family farm, or her most recent blending of fabric and resin to create lace sculpture, Gardner-Roe puts her training and her imagination to the test. While she works in media including resin, ceramics, drawing, and painting, a textile element can almost always be found. Influenced by the passing down of handcraft through the generations, she strives to re-contextualize traditional craft.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. During her career in Kansas City, she has been awarded a studio residency from the Charlotte Street Foundation as well as multiple grants from the ArtsKC Regional Arts Council. In the last few years, she received a scholarship to study experimental sculpture near Aspen, Colorado as well as a research and development residency in the panhandle of Florida. Her work has been in exhibitions across the country from San Jose, California to Lowell, Massachusetts.
While you might expect a burgeoning artist to seek out hotspots like New York City and Los Angeles, Gardner-Roe is dedicated to the arts scene in Kansas City.
“The arts organizations here are amazing and research has shown that citizens in this region engage with the arts at a higher rate than bigger cities like New York,” she said. ”
Just this fall, the artist exhibited a solo exhibition at one of those organizations, the ArtsKC Regional Council in the heart of the Crossroads Arts District and has just released an online exhibition catalogue.
The artist currently splits her time between her home in Mission and the family farm where she works on her fabric sculpture, which lace can appear frozen in undulating curves or precise origami-like folds. Gardner-Roe occasionally pauses to focus on other bodies of work, but she has been building on this unique style of sculpture for several years.
“To be honest, I’m doing things with materials that you’re not supposed to do. I mean, lace isn’t supposed to be hard sculpture and look like metal, but hey, we all like to break a few rules, don’t we?” she said. “Luckily, as an artist, I feel it’s in my job description.”
After ten years of working as an artist, what has changed? “A few years ago, I got certified to teach yoga, which has had a lasting effect on how I work,” she said. “The work is more focused on achieving balance. When I break rules, it’s to balance very different materials to find a sort of conceptual center of gravity. Balance in life is hard to find and I have struggled just as much as anyone else. So, my work has become a metaphor for that struggle and in our busy culture, it doesn’t seem a bad to idea to encourage others to seek balance as well. I suppose that’s not in the job description for an artist, but it just might be for me.”
The artist’s experimental approach to materials results in unique lace sculpture such as Rhythm No. 2A, which combines ideas regarding memory with research in the design principles behind the art of paper folding.
No stranger to alternative methods, this detail of a nine foot lace work shows the intricate detail the artist can achieve when she uses a sewing machine to literally draw lace.