Today I’m chatting with Rachel Lee a young artist from Miami, Florida.

Her art practice is based in painting, inspired by the DIY work ethic of American punk/alternative rock musicians and the aesthetics of ’90s video game graphics, ’90s alternative music, the Miami suburbs; concert images and polygon graphics converging with lakes and parks and shifting between known surroundings and artificial realities.

These objects are the result of escapism, driven by nostalgia and isolation.

She’s a recent graduate of New World School of the Arts in Miami. Her artistic concentration is in painting, but she love printmaking, ceramics, fiber arts, and the like.

Enjoy our ramble through the Scandinavian tale of the Nokken as well as Rachel’s relationship with her body and creativity.

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Resources from this episode:

Connecting with Rachel:

Connecting with Janelle:

Things we chatted about in this episode:

  • the Scandinavian fairytale The Nokken
  • On being how it’s a creature living in a lake drawing vulnerable people into the water and drown them
  • how it’s a great descriptor for how depression and anxious feelings and dark thoughts work
  • very drawn to the way Scandinavians tell stories – weaves humour into the darkness
  • the dialogue is very clever, humourous, presented very plainly compared to American stories
  • on struggling with dark thoughts since childhood, becoming away of it as a young adult
  • how it took so long to learn of her feelings because of being raised ‘old school Cuban’
  • on the relief of learning that what she was dealing with was clinical depression, and how helpful it’s been
  • tries to keep depression and anxiety in line but also deal with them openly and acknowledge how normal it is – how the Scandinavian stories deal with dark subject matter with humour – it helps to laugh at these difficulties too
  • how her favourite 90s alternative bands deal with similar subject matter
  • relationship with creativity
  • on how she started painting at the age of 15 – having been homeschooled – her now-husband connected her with a mentor who encouraged her
  • relationship with painting started therapeutically – a way of physically dealing with the things she couldn’t talk about with adults in her life – now works on bringing together all the things that are important to her – music, video games, personal relationship to her hometown, dealing with depression and how she feels about how things have worked out in her life so far – physically manifesting these things in her paintings
  • wanting to make music, but not starting yet because of self-consciousness
  • how odd post-grad life as an artist is, such a big transition
  • on working two jobs plus an internship plus art making
  • wanting to give herself room in this post-grad transition rather than diving into too many big new projects
  • pacing herself, also feeling impatient
  • how she relates to Henry Rollins’ work ethic
  • relationship with body
  • On having had an indifferent/negative relationship with her body
  • never having been very physically active/aware of her body
  • learning how to breathe better to deal with anxiety and panic attacks
  • wanting to learn to have a regular exercise routine and treat her body better – thinking about it much more than even a couple years ago
  • having made large scale art for her BFA thesis and how it involved constant movement – felt very grounded and aware in this process
  • how not having grow up very physical, she’s had to teach herself to push herself and remind herself when she’s doing physical activity that she has to deal with it and not be sedentary