We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Dawn Lauver and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel Dawn, what principle do you value most?
Introspection is a value that matters a lot to me. Primarily in the context of wanting to know why I believe something rather than blindly believing it. Along with introspection, empathy and humility are also guiding values and things I try to hold close when discovering where I stand on bigger issues.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve learned that I’m driven far more by concept than medium and have given up on the idea of being defined by any one medium. Most of my art explores gender and sexuality, primarily through the lens of how these topics are addressed on mythology, religious texts, and fables. The art I’ve created so far is both deeply personal to me in processing my own experiences but also meant to serve as a catalyst for discussion on larger societal issues. I’m currently in the middle of an oil painting series that explores how assault is sexualized, romanticized, and normalized in art (primarily Baroque paintings). Stories of rape in mythology and religious texts have been used as an excuse to paint women’s bodies for the male gaze. They’re painted not with the intent to humanize or sympathize with victims nor to condemn assault but instead to show nudity in a context that wouldn’t have been viewed as pornographic. My hope is that I will be able to re-frame popular paintings in a way that is sympathetic, realistic, and humanizing without being triggering. I want to explore how severely narrative implications are impacted by just the pose and expression of the central figure even when the subject matter remains identical. This is a topic I also explored in a linocut print series about how gender is addressed in fables. A similar topic was addressed in a photo series where I created Baroque-style still lifes displaying the objects that are used to justify sexual violence in common rape stories. This photo series, as well as accompanying poems, can be seen here: https://www.racheldawnphotos.com/what-lies-in-grey-areas As of now, most of my art is for my own enjoyment and reflection rather than for profit. Professionally, I am a graphic designer and recently finished my Master’s degree in Marketing. However, I lost my marketing job this week because of COVID related budget cuts so I’m currently back at square one in my professional journey. While I’ve gained a marketing degree since my last job hunt, there are a lot of new challenges to face in the current pandemic job market. My graphic design portfolio can be seen at www.racheldawnportfolio.com
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I recently moved back to Tucson and am appreciating it far more than I did growing up here. My favorite bars are REVEL, R Bar, Living Room, and Owls Club but depending on the friend I’ll bring some people to The Shelter (though it’s admittedly an acquired taste) My all-time favorite places to eat are Rincon Market, Time Market, and 5 Points Market (I’m a sucker for a good market). I’m celiac so Dedicated and Gourmet Girls also have my heart. When my vegan friends visit we go to Lovin Spoonfuls every day. As far as things to do, 4th Ave is usually the easiest place to take friends. Specifically Antigone Books, some of the small art galleries and shops, and D&D Pinball. For friends who have never seen the desert, I try to take them a little past Gates Pass at sunset. Coffee is also a hobby for me and there are a lot of great coffee shops in Tucson. Presta, Exo, and Cafe Presse are where I usually take people. The Tucson Museum of Art is also great and connected to a great cafe called Cafe A la C’Art.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shout out individuals and organizations fighting for representation in creative spaces and offering resources to BIPOC and LGBT+ artists. Design for Black Lives is an organization pairing designers offering pro bono services with BIPOC small businesses and individuals, BLM organizers, anti-racism nonprofits, and nonprofits offering resources to the Black community. Services can be offered or requested on the Design for Black Lives website. (I’m signed up through Design for Black Lives but I want to restate my offer while I have this platform. If you are a BIPOC or LGBT+ owned small business, BIPOC or LGBT+ individual, or anti-racism organizer or nonprofit looking for free graphic design, website design, or branding work please feel free to reach out to me!) Funds like Shades Collective, Black Art in America LLC., and The aSHE Fund are all offering financial support and resources to Black creatives. Organizations like Queer Art offer mentorships and resources to queer artists. These organizations are especially important right now as so many artists and small businesses are being hit hard financially by COVID-19. If you have the financial means, please consider donating! If not, please consider promoting these organizations or promoting the work of POC and LGBT+ artists! I also want to shout out some of the individuals who have started the conversation surrounding racism and white supremacy in art. As artists, we can’t ignore that we are working in an industry with a long history of exploitation, appropriation, and silencing people of color. We need to start putting in the work to not only acknowledge our privilege as white creatives and the power of our platforms, but also ensure that what we create is not contributing to racism. Seph Rodney wrote an article titled ‘Five Ways to Disrupt White Supremacy in the Mainstream Art World’, asking those within the art world to answer “What would you do to disrupt white supremacy in the current system of art production?”. Angela Pelster-Wiebe’s article: ‘White Artists Need to Start Addressing White Supremacy in Their Work’ is also an incredible place to start in acknowledging our historic shortcomings and how we can shift the conversation.
Other: Email: Rachel@RachelDawnPhotos.com