Coming in strong from the Bay Area and West Coast is Rachel Mandala. Having been on the grid for a few solid years this young artisan has been delving into her personal expressive vibration since she was of a young age, and incorporates tastes and flavors collected through life and growing as her basis for creation. Mystical time expanses laden with the flows and whimsics of dreams adorn and embody themselves into each trancelike offering she leaves the viewer with. A free spirit, she has found her way around the country and beyond, leaving subconscious linguistics composed of hues, tones, and dimensions that resonate and spill off the canvas, and perpetuate the audience in their splendor. Having shown at the Tribe13 gallery along with other visionary greats at Burning man, and in Costa Rica at Envision, this young crusader of aesthetics is already well on her path. Certain things in her work have kept her at the cusp of my art following the past few years, so I decided to get in touch, and see what is ticking inside the mind of Mandala.
“Once In A Blue Moon”
1. Where are you from, born and raised, And where are you currently residing?
I’m from Eugene, Oregon born and raised there in the same house my whole life. Also lived in Portland and then traveled and lived on the road for about a year until I ended up in Oakland at the Woom, and was in Oakland for three years till finally ending up in San Francisco last year.
2. When did you first find the artistic drive or exploration you are currently experiencing and feeling?
I have always had this drive for artwork, but I suppose its intensified upon my decision to make it my career. The organic drive, which has always been there since I was a child, is simply the undeniable desire to create constantly; because that’s the way I process the information about the world around me.
The found desire comes from the decision to pursue this work as a career, which I did 5 years ago. This drive has a root in the need to find personal style, to develop intellectually so as to keep my audience involved with my subject matter and technique, and to make sure I’m producing something that pushes my own boundaries every time.
3. How would you describe your work? Maybe you are trying to capture a certain ebb, or express a certain emotion.
Definitely surrealist, Contemporary, and classical elements to kind of convey a dreamlike atmosphere.
In the past had a lot of mostly figurative elements I feel like people connect to. A pretty standard way to kind of grab a viewers attention. Themes of empowerment, Female empowerment, Kind of a sense of supernatural, mystical has been present as well.
Throughout my time in the city I have definitely started to incorporate more urban elements / more elements of what I see around me. Paintings can kinds of have this nostalgia feeling through the process of layering colors and letting things degrade. I have been working with this kind of like paper peeling away, and things kind of like aging and giving a sense of past to my work. Some of it is really vibrant, Poppy and urban with hip-hop and graffiti flavors of the city and incorporates that.
“As Worlds Unfold”
4. What is your preferred Medium and instrument?; and what all do you work with?
At the moment doing lots of oil painting, as we speak actually. Super into oils. I got familiar with acrylics before, and most of my work in the past year has been in acrylic and then oil has just opened up a whole new doorway to my technique. What I am able to employ and Visuals I am able to achieve. Really dig oil paint because you get this depth, and this effect through layering that you cant get with anything else because with how soft and pliable it is, it really moves the way nature moves. So it’s easier to communicate softness of skin of the feeling of glass or metal, Things like that. I also really like messing around with pens, pencils, and sketchpads so I’ve been producing a lot of drawings recently.
5. What are you striving to do in life? You’re proposed Magnum Opus so to say?
Been thinking about that a lot recently, and living in a city and place where there is so much diversity there’s so much struggle around gentrification and around different levels of class and race and all this has made me think what way I can give a voice to people who don’t have a voice, and kind of expose struggle through my work, and also portraying things in a different light so maybe people have a different perspective.
So Magnum Opus I would say would be to use art to inspire people toward revolutionary ways of thinking and being, and you know I’m just really starting to brainstorm different projects that I feel would impact the community on a larger scale, that has less to do with me and more to do with the community vision. So you can expect that in the future.
6. Who in the artistic realm would you say most inspires, or has inspired you?
Hmmm. At least currently, lets see. All throughout my life inspirations have changed a lot so at the moment I feel really inspired people who I come into personal contact with, people who I work with regularly, so I feel like contemporaries would be the big first inspiration.
Outside of that I’ve been really inspired, I mean I love everything Thinkspace puts out that I have seen. There’s just a lot of people pushing boundaries right now between graffiti and fine art, Murals and painting and stuff. So honestly, specific names, love Lobros stuff, really poppy, design oriented and lots of pattern work, transparencies and really fine line work. A contemporary artist would be Joshua Mays, who lives in Oakland and is one of my favorite painters. Always really inspired with what he puts out. Someone new though; I’ve personally come into contact with NomeAdonna and Mars1 and Oliver Verron who are all bay area, or at least were. I think they obviously inspired a lot of the artistic movement going on everywhere. I take elements from it but I feel like its been reproduced by so many people as their style, so I try not to use too many elements of that. Then older stuff you have Salvador Dali. I also love Freda Kahlo and what she stood for personally and what she did with her work.
7. What types of elements in your surrounding do you draw inspiration from?
Well I’m from Oregon so I think that I have kind of this organic element deep seeded inside of me as my connection to like my spirituality and my peace within myself so I feel like I use a lot of elements of that. But I’ve also been immersed in the concrete jungle for years now so. I use in my work a lot of photo reference and I try to keep pretty much all of my photo reference from my personal collection of photos that I take so I have incorporated elements of the underpasses of freeways in the city. I’m working on this one house burning that I took a photo of in Detroit, and some photos of some friends sitting on a cliffside, so I incorporate all of these kind of things from my life and then find a way to patch them together into a story that says something.
Mural at Twenty After Four. Springfield, Oregon.
8. What do you consider your roots? Any art, subculture or interests that you feel sculpted you as a child or growing up as a youth?
Lets see. I guess I got my start doing live painting at electronic music shows in Oregon, and that was kind of the jump off for me as a teenager to start practicing my skill and bringing it around and getting to know people. So I feel like that’s where a lot of stuff started, but if we go back even farther than that my parents always encouraged me to pursue art and to learn. They always took me to museums to study you know kind of classical art, and to get an understanding of history. So I feel like my roots in my subject matter go all the way back to when I was a kid. I loved Buddhist themed art, and kind of that fantastical characters vibe. When I was a kid I was also into a lot of Monet and Renoir and Rembrandt, all of the classics so I had that influence of classical painting in my mind, and I would say the platform of my roots Starting out and getting exposure, and going a non conventional path without schooling and all these traditional ways that people go about being an artist, was really the festivals and the music events. Then I started moving away from that and started doing a little more work in galleries, and shows around the city.
9. I noticed you do a bit of mural work. Is there any pieces you would tell people to watch out for?
Lets see. So far I have one in Springfield, which is just outside of Eugene where I grew up, and that was on a friends store which is no longer open but the mural is still running. They actually do a Springfield mural walk and tour that just started, so it’s a part of that. Then I have one up at a friends place in Eugene in the south hills. One in L.A. at the Garage Gallery, which is an indoor, and there’s a lot of other really awesome mural artists that have stuff up in there as well. A lot of times just for friends and their houses, personal commissions, and stuff of that sort. I have my sights set on getting out to New York as soon as possible and doing some mural work out there. Made some connections in Detroit, so I have this idea in the works like this cross-country mural tour that I want to have a story to, that connects them all. So I’ll be working on the story behind it before I get to it.
10. Any other hobbies or interests you pursue, or are gifted in?
I mean I’m all over the board and down for creative projects on any scale. I like to build things. Definitely enjoy running around and doing street art and what not. I spend most of my time in the studio. That’s the only way to make a frickin living, so I spend most of my time in the studio, and when I’m not here I go do hoodrat stuff with my friends.
11. Lastly. Are there any words you would like to leave the world with?
I would say that I think now more than ever its important for people to remember that you know, everything that happens in your life is a product of your mind and your creation. So if you can hold a vision, you can make whatever you want, grow from that and fully create your life. So, one thing I have been thinking about a lot is where people believe they belong in the world, and how we can hold ourselves back because maybe we don’t have a college education, or you don’t have all the things that society tells us we need to accomplish what we want to accomplish, and more and more over time I have learned that’s just complete bullshit, and that you can absolutely achieve anything that you hold in your mind. So go out there to it and take the world by storm and be a revolutionary, stand up for what’s right, and just be creative and be good to people.
That’s what I would say.
Stay updated with Rachel’s ever evolving art at Rachel Mandala Art