Who are you and where are you from?
Hi! My name is Rachelle Wunderink. I grew up in Niagara on the Lake near Niagara Falls in Canada, and I attended a small private university in the US where I received a degree in Studio Art. After graduation I lived in Taiwan for four years, before living and working in Venezuela,Morocco,and Michigan (again) before ultimately coming back to Taiwan in 2017!
Can you tell us a little about your work and the reasons behind it?
My pieces incorporate a variety of motifs including anatomy, growth, deconstruction, and geometry. I have always been drawn to patterns and texture, but lately I’ve focused more on using geometric shapes and collage with my compositions. I love collecting everyday materials from wherever I’m living; these pieces have bits and pieces of Taiwanese life such as 7-11 and Family Mart receipts and stickers, ghost paper, advertising, Taiwanese proverbs, and tourist maps from around Taiwan.
How do you think your childhood impacted your style?
Both my parents are involved in the art community and raised me with an appreciation of the arts. My mother is a well known photo realistic watercolour painter, who inspired me to focus on the world around me for inspiration. My father was an art instructor and sculptor who has long used found objects in his pieces. Additionally, he taught me to look beyond surface level interpretations when viewing and creating art.
Can you tell us a bit about your workspace?
I currently do most of my work from my home studio; a beautiful sunny room overlooking a busy park. In theory I have a closet and some shelves to store collected materials for later pieces, but in practice it’s usually a mildly controlled mess that keeps things within easy reach.
Do you listen to anything while you’re working, and if so, what?
I work better having something on in the background even if I’m not actively listening. My eclectic musical taste is reflected by my Spotify history, but I’m also an avid podcast listener who enjoys "This American Life," "Radiolab," and "Rough Translation”. Also, my long-suffering fiance sometimes has to deal with the Netflix shows I sometimes keep on in the background. (May the best woman win!)
How do you approach the creative process? (Talk us through how you construct a piece? Do have a concrete idea of what it will look like before you get started? What type of reference do you use?)
My pieces are very focused on process over product; I never have a concrete idea of what the final product will look like. I usually create the base layer by blocking off a basic pattern and collaging it. Then I’ll block off a secondary pattern for the second and third layers. After that I’ll keep adding layers until the piece feels complete.This work process usually means that I work on several pieces at once; I often need to take a break from certain pieces to and wait for inspiration or a clearer vision of where to go next. I keep a reference scrapbook of patterns both from the internet, and things I find during my adventures. Sometimes these patterns make it into my final pieces.
When creating feels forced what do you do to get things flowing again?
I think it’s important to take a break when I’m stalled. I keep sketchbooks to give me a place to play around with patterns and collage. I also keep journals for writing out and organizing thoughts and ideas. I usually have smaller commercial pieces that I can work on as well.
What have been some of the greatest breakthroughs you’ve experienced within your learning as an artist? (Those moments that have opened up whole new creative avenues or that have led to you taking large leaps forward in your development?)
For years, I was selling and producing a more commercial line of anatomical diagrams. After awhile I felt uninspired and stunted with illustration and particularly not using colour. I wanted to get back to what I loved to do in college, painting. I went out to and bought a 3ft by 3ft canvas, and just starting to block out a pattern I was obsessed with. I wanted to add dimension to the pattern and I started ripping up a geography book my parents had given me when I was a teenager. I realized I had carried around several materials that I had intended to use for collages since college to over 3 countries, but never used. So I used all of them. The piece ended up being an untraditional self-portrait of my life. Letters from my father, social studies textbooks, maps from Hungary, ghost paper from Taiwan. That piece received several surprised compliments and was featured in prestigious show at the UICA. I realized, I needed to take more risks with my work, and not be afraid to use materials I collected. It was also the first time I had fun making work in years. I fine when i'm focused more on my process, rather than producing an end product, I am more free in my art making.
Any artists (new or old) that have been inspiring you as of late?
Even though my work looks drastically different, I absolutely love the works of Kiki Smith. Her connection to her process and hands on nature inspires me whenever I see her pieces. I also enjoy Ai Wei Wei's take on social justice and conceptual work as well as the works of Hannah Hoch, Hank Willis Thomas, and Leonardo Drew. I regularly get inspiration from my fellow artists and close friends. Tia Wierenga does really eye-catching assemblage painting, while Madison May is an innovative printmaking and collage artist.
What do you look for in art of others? What would you hope people look for in your work?
Obviously texture and patterns are central to my pieces, and I also love other artist’s works that use a variety of colours, patterns and textures. Further, I love pieces that display passion and originality. When talking with fellow artists, I love seeing their passion and excitement when they talk about art. I hope viewers of my work can see the passion I’ve put into my pieces as well as the intricate textures, and playful use of materials. I always get enjoyment out of watching viewers recognize my repurposed collage materials.
Are you ever satisfied with your work?
I like to get feedback from my friends and family while finishing pieces. When I was first starting, I would sometimes overwork pieces and they looked strained as a result. As I’ve grown though, I’ve learned to stop and experience the piece before deciding if it’s truly finished.
What are some of your favourite places or things in Taiwan?
Although I haven’t had many opportunities lately, I love exploring abandoned places around the Taiwanese countryside. I also love the colours, patterns and flashiness of Taiwanese temples.
I’ll continue creating pieces from my sunny studio, rushing around with the sturdiest umbrella I can find, and looking for gallery representation. I’m starting the process of getting my MFA soon, and always have pieces available on my Etsy store (rgwunderinkart.etsy.com).