Award-winning visual and performance artist Rachel Perry challenges every excuse you may have for not stepping towards your creative dreams. She attended art school at 36 while raising a first grader — not the most practical time to begin an intense program of study — and her work is now exhibited in collections around the world. You are not too old and it is not too late!
- Check out Rachel’s work here.
- Twitter: @racyperry
- Instagram: @rachelperrystudio
- A preview of her collaboration with composer Ted Hearne and director Daniel Fish In Your Mouth; text by Dorothea Lasky
- The Unknown Craftsman by Soetsu Yanagi
- The Relationship Between Use and Beauty artwork by Tricia Rose Burt
Tricia: [00:00:00] Hey, there. I’m Tricia Rose Burt and I want to ask you a question. What creative work are you called to do but are too afraid to try? Are you in IT but dream of doing stand up? A PR exec who longs to write a screenplay? Did the pandemic change your priorities and you want to leave your fully funded PhD/MD program and go to New Mexico and paint? Or maybe you’re like I was in my early career, trapped in a lucrative but soul crushing corporate job when what I really wanted to do was tell stories on stage. In this podcast, we’ll hear from artists who took an unexpected leap and found the courage to answer their creative call so we can inspire you to answer yours, because this is no time to be timid.
Tricia: [00:01:03] Welcome to the show. In this episode, we’re going to explore the sixth principle in the No Time to be timid manifesto: Practicality is overrated. Just like in our last episode when I had to look up the definition of logic to see what it really meant, I looked up the definition of practicality for this episode. Of course, it’s based on the word practical, and one of the definitions of practical is likely to succeed, that a task is possible to do easily and conveniently. Well, fortunately, our guest, Rachel Perry, didn’t make her decision to become an artist on whether it was easy or convenient. She attended Boston’s Museum School of Fine Arts — just like I did — except she was in her late thirties and raising a first grader. Not exactly the ideal time to start an intense art program. So if you’re thinking it’s not a good time for you to step toward a creative dream, or that creativity is a luxury you can’t afford right now, this is the episode for you.
And if you’re also thinking, “I’m too old” or “It’s too late for me to accomplish anything,” I’m going to stop you right there, because despite Rachel’s late start, she’s made major creative contributions. She’s represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York, and her work is in museums and private collections around the world. She’s been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Vogue, and she’s a three time recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Award for Excellence — the only artist in its history to win in three separate disciplines: photography, drawing, and sculpture.
At some point, I’m pretty sure she’ll win in the performance category too. Rachel’s performance Karaoke Wrong Number, which we’ll hear about in a bit, is what gave me permission to write perform my one woman show and start telling stories.
And if you’re thinking, “I don’t have the materials or the space to make art work,” well, you’ll have no excuses at the end of this episode because Rachel often works at her kitchen table or on the go. And the materials she uses are things like fruit stickers, twisty ties, and tin foil. Her “Lost in My Life” series is all about the endless organizing and cleaning and shopping that makes up the business of living.
If you want to have a companion experience while you’re listening to this podcast, go to her website, rachelperrystudio.com or check out some of the links on my website and move through her body of work so you can have a visual experience as well.
Rachel once said about her work that she takes the bits and pieces of life that people tend to ignore, forget about, or delete and brings them back in a way so we can think about them differently. I’m just delighted to share her with all of you.
Hi everyone. It’s Tricia Rose Burt. And today I have with me Rachel Perry, who’s a wonderful artist and a dear friend. Welcome to the show.
Rachel: [00:04:09] First I want to say thank you for having me and congratulations. This is very exciting. This is your new endeavor, your podcast.
Tricia: [00:04:17] And you were part of the cheerleaders for that. We were talking about this last April, and you’re like, Tricia, you really ought to do a podcast.
Rachel: [00:04:23] Oh, yeah.
Tricia: [00:04:23] I think I’ll think about that. Okay. What was the first act of creative courage that you ever committed?
Rachel: [00:04:30] I imagine it was probably when I was about four years old and was living in New London, Connecticut, and I essentially turned my bedroom into a studio. I didn’t know that’s what it was. And I do have a picture that I’ll share with you because I just found it the other day and it shocked me because it looks like it’s from my “Lost in My Life” series. But I’m only four years old.
And I’m surrounded by my art, and I’m holding up paintings that are sort of hiding my face. And I covered the floor, paintings on paper, but covered the floor, the walls, my bed. I sort of lived in this environment and I didn’t know what a studio was or what an artist was. Essentially, that’s what I was doing.
Tricia: [00:05:17] I guess that is just fascinating that you were doing that at four years old.
Rachel: [00:05:23] But then of course, I didn’t commit to being a so-called artist until much, much later.
Tricia: [00:05:29] And that’s one of the things I want to ask you about. I was listening to the podcast you had, the Think Do Lead podcast with Catherine Bergeron, who’s the president of your alma mater, Connecticut College. And I loved this line. You said, “I always knew I made weird things and I love to spend time making things, whether in the woods or in my bedroom.” And then you had this line “And I never acknowledged…” and you didn’t finish that sentence and you went on to something else. And I was like, what didn’t she acknowledge? Was it that artist self that was in you? How would you have completed that sentence since I’m asking you this now, three years after you had that interview.
Rachel: [00:06:09] I think I never acknowledged that I was an artist and took me a while to come to that. I felt that it was sort of the Cool Kids Club. I went to a liberal arts college, as you mentioned, which is, I think, a really important foundation of my practice, because I majored in English literature and I lived in Paris for a year and I minored in French language. And that sort of helped build the kind of the base from which I work. But it wasn’t until my senior year that I finished all my requirements and I thought, Oh, okay, maybe I’ll take art. I’d been dissuaded by some acquaintance who had said one of the first days of college, “Why would you want to take art? It takes so much time.” And I thought, Yeah, okay, I guess, I guess that’s a reason not to do it. Well, what I didn’t realize, of course, is that if you love what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter how much time it takes. That’s what you want to be doing.
Tricia: [00:07:07] When I heard that part of the interview, when you had mentioned that about that acquaintance that said, “Why would you want to do art? It takes so much time.” I just sort of winced because there’s so many well-meaning people in our lives.
Rachel: [00:07:20] So true.
Tricia: [00:07:21] Who will say things to us that they think are helpful, right? You know, and they thwart us. It takes us off a path whether we’re an aspiring artist or a practicing artist. I remember watching that Linda Ronstadt documentary and they were telling her, you no, don’t do opera in The Pirates of Penzance. No, don’t do the Spanish album, which is now still the bestselling Spanish album. There’s always — particularly if you’re thinking about doing something creative or artistic or anything new — someone’s going to be telling you you’ll never make a living doing that.
Rachel: [00:07:59] But look what Linda did. You know Linda Ronstadt, she did it anyway. And everything has a time, I really firmly believe in that. I think when I was 18 or 23 or even maybe, you know, 29, I probably didn’t have really that much to say. And it didn’t happen until I was 36. And I actually saw what my mother was doing. My mother had had a whole career as a research scientist for Dr. Edwin Land at Polaroid. She was one of his inner circle and had this really engaging and impressive career. You know, she coauthored something in the journal Nature with him, and, you know, she was really doing amazing things, but she had always wanted to be an artist. And she started taking one day off from work and she started very slowly dipping her toe in by taking a course and then another. And she ended up going full time to The Museum School.
Tricia: [00:08:54] She went to The Museum School as well? I didn’t know that.
Rachel [00:08:58] And then she invited me one day to go see her final review board, which is where you lay out all your work for peers to look at, also faculty. And instead of a grade, they give you intensive comments and critique and everything gets written up. And I saw the work that she was doing and I was completely blown away. I just felt in my gut, in my heart, I just thought, “This is what I want to be doing.” I’m kind of mad. My mom is doing this and I’m not doing it! So I grabbed the catalog and I sat in my car for like three hours and I read the entire catalog front to back. I practically memorized it. I picked out every course I wanted to take, and I went home that night and said to my then husband, I think I want to go to art school. I was committed at that point and it was going to happen.
Tricia: [00:09:47] This is fascinating. How old was your mother?
Rachel: [00:09:50] 56, I think.
Tricia: [00:09:51] 56. And you started at 36?
Rachel: [00:09:54] Yeah.
Tricia: [00:09:55] So I just loved that because there’s always that excuse “I’m too old. I can’t.” You know, it’s not practical.
Rachel: [00:10:02] Well, we had a 91-year-old in our life drawing class. You may have remembered her seeing her.
Tricia: [00:10:10] I remember the 80-year-old man that was there, and those are really the artists I get so drawn to. There was that meme that was going around that was “Quit showing me the 40 under 40s. Give me the person who got their Ph.D. at 60 after losing everything and the debut novelist in their seventies. It takes a lot of courage to do that, but there’s a lot at risk if you don’t step into that creative self. I mean, what was at stake for you if you hadn’t gone to art school?
Rachel: [00:10:40] Well, my life. Art has saved me. It’s what I realized I need to be doing. I’m passionate about the work. I love the ideas. I’m a full, expressive human being with that being so central to my life.
Tricia: [00:11:04] A lot of people can talk themselves out of it, out of stepping into that creativity, kind of not knowing what the cost is.
Rachel: [00:11:13] Right. And you say that I gave you permission. Well, I think my mother, in a sense, gave me permission. We do help each other out. It does get passed on.
Tricia: [00:11:21] One of the conversations you and I had that I loved was the reasons why you work with the materials that you work with and you were saying that you had to go pick up your son in carpool so you didn’t have time to wait for the oil paint to dry. So tell me about why you work with materials you work with. I think people often think they have constraints and they look at constraints as just that as opposed to opportunities. And you’ve turned it on its head.
Rachel [00:11:52] Oh, yes. Well, you and I both had a professor at the Museum School, Rhoda Rosenberg, who said to me early on, I think the first class I ever took there, “You never have enough money, time or space, so get over it.” That was the best advice. It’s true. Don’t make excuses. Just get there. So I think, you know, for me, it came to me later I realized, oh, this is why I gravitate to these materials that I can pick up and put down things like twist ties or stitching or, you know, assembling bread tags. I don’t have to wait for anything to dry. I’m too impatient for that as well. Although I do have great patience with my materials, much more so than I do with people. I was a little bit frustrated by the fact that child rearing does take so much of one’s time, and I devoted myself fully to it because I only had one child, knew I was going to only have one child, and wanted to be there every moment. And I really was. That’s not to say that I didn’t actually strap a sketchbook on my lap while I was driving carpool and put a pencil in in my right hand and drove with my left hand and made a series of of five drawings — Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday — you know, as a way to keep working, even when I felt I couldn’t work. And I did a lot of things on the kitchen table and I still prefer to have my studio at home, although that makes it a much smaller studio because space where you live is more expensive obviously, than studio space you could you could rent. But for me, I love to come in and check on my babies at 11:00 at night before I go to bed and sort of see what, you know, what I’ve been working on that day and fill up the energy.
Tricia: [00:13:40] So when you say babies, in that sense, you’re meaning your art babies as opposed to your real babies.
Rachel: [00:13:46] I mean, in my art babies. Yes.
Tricia: [00:13:49] Looking at your videos around your residency at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and when you had the wonderful installation on the side of the facade. And I loved this line — “I happened to be in the kitchen when I came up with the idea to use tinfoil because it was at hand.” I just I just loved it. It’s like, oh, what can I do with this? It’s right in front of me.
Rachel: [00:14:13] Right? That’s really part of how I operate. People have asked me, Well, what is this? You know, why? It’s very hard to trace where an idea comes from or where my proclivity toward using, I won’t say common materials, but materials that are at hand comes from. But I do wonder if it has something to do with the simplicity, the beauty that I experienced as a child when I lived in Japan. I was born there and then lived there on a couple of different occasions. And I feel that that is deeply ingrained, kind of an efficiency with my material, if that makes sense.
Tricia: [00:14:52] It absolutely makes sense. You know, the book, The Unknown Craftsman by Soetsu Unagi, the Japanese potter, the whole body of work I did called The Relationship Between Use and Beauty was based on this idea that everyday objects that we use are really beautiful. So I was using tea bags and masking tape for years. I think that Japanese esthetic and way of approach is all in your work.
Rachel: [00:15:17] I agree. Yeah.
Tricia: [00:15:19] You went and gave a fabulous address at the Monserrat College of Art and one of the things that you say, which is I thought, this just completely speaks to her work and how you navigate through life and I think needs to be tattooed on most of our arms, which is “the fullness of your attention requires exquisite empathy.” I just love that phrase “exquisite empathy.” “and from there, beauty flows even from the unbeautiful.” It was really a very moving line to say. And so talk a little bit about paying attention and how that influences the aspiring artist, the practicing artist.
Rachel: [00:16:01] Sure. Well, first of all, I would say that I thought a lot about the expression that we use “pay attention.” I think I would rather say, you know, give attention rather than pay attention. So let’s give attention. And in my daily life, that’s probably part of the experience of meditation that I maintain a practice of doing that. It’s also just taking those moments to be aware of what’s around you. And again, I think I trace this back to my beginnings in Japan and being very aware of how beautifully someone would wrap one apple. And now, of course, we realize how wasteful that is in terms of, you know, our planet and taking care of it. So I’m not lauding this as a way that we should be going forward, but the care and the beauty in just the everyday life made a big impression on me. I think I just bring that into my practice naturally.
Tricia: [00:17:00] Yeah. No, it shows. You’re the only person I know that can take fruit stickers and transform that material into something gorgeous.
Rachel: [00:17:08] Yeah, but I think they’re beautiful. I mean, some people think they’re – and they are — a nuisance, I know. And they don’t go down into the compost. It’s a big problem. But I was so drawn to the colors and the shapes of them and the fact that they’re this tiny thing that contains multitudes of information. It’s economic, it’s political, it’s social. You know, where does our fruit come from? And obviously tells the cashier the price and there’s just so much in there that I found as I started working with it, I kind of realized that.
Tricia: [00:17:44] Well, part of the thing that was so impressive about your commencement address is that you had your seven rules for life, which one of them was “Be Yourself.” And you had mentioned that in your first work of art it wasn’t particularly special, but something about it felt right. And is that with you being the four-year-old in the room with all of these things around you?
Rachel: [00:18:08] That was my first work. I also did a little performance when I was four and I didn’t realize it was a performance. But when you’re a child, you just work. You just do. You work through your play and you aren’t aware that it is what it might be later as you reflect back on it. For example, I set up a little office outside of my parents’ bedroom. Apparently I took a tiny chest and I had all my supplies neatly organized and I would go to work and I would sit at my little table and do my work. And I, with my sisters, I created — I was probably a little older — but I created a library, so people had to check out the books that, you know, were the family’s books.
Tricia: [00:18:59] I think that what we’re doing as kids, it’s just so indicative of where we’re supposed to be as adults. I mean, I have a poster that I found when I was at my mother’s house a couple of years ago that says, “Please come see me in a play Thursday at 1 p.m.” And I probably wrote this thing when I was eight years old and I thought, nothing has changed.
Rachel: [00:19:23] Nothing has changed. Exactly.
Tricia: [00:19:26] Your performance “Karaoke Wrong Number,” which is where I’ve just got to say right now, really transformed me because I had been wanting to put myself in my own work and somehow thought I was not allowed to because I was not allowed to draw attention to myself. And I saw “Karaoke Wrong Number” and I thought, well, if Rachel can put herself in her work, then I can put me in my work as well. So thank you for that. Tell the listeners about that work so they can understand.
Rachel: [00:19:54] I’d be happy to. One day I came home and we had answering machines back then in 2001 and there was a message, wrong number message, from a woman who was worried about the dust in the church and she was trying to reach a Father Garrity She had this incredibly great, like, very Boston accent. She was sort of sweet, but a little bit passive aggressive. I mean, I read all this narrative into this one wrong number message, and it got me thinking. So I saved it, and then I started saving all of them. People always ask me, so I will say that I was getting wrong number messages because our number phone number was all fours and three, so it was easy to transpose. Oh, so yeah, that’s why I seem to get so many. So I had saved about a dozen. It took about four or five years to collect them all. And I first I thought I was going to do like police sketch composite drawings based on what I thought these people look like just from the limited amount of information that they left. And then at some point I realized I had to put myself into it. And okay, if you want to talk about fear, the first time I sat in the chair in my bedroom, nobody around with the video camera trained on me to perform essentially the words spoken by another person — I was just the vessel — my heart was beating so fast you would think I was on stage in front of a thousand people. But I got through that, realized how fun it was. I think I’ve always loved that sort of aspect of acting, did a tiny bit in high school, but nothing to speak of. And I lip synched to these wrong number messages and sort of embodied the people that I thought they were. So, for example, you know, when I was doing them, this guy who had a very low voice, he sounded like a cigar smoker. You know, I kind of thickened my neck a little bit and the words came out of the back of my throat a little more. Even though you weren’t hearing me, you were just seeing this visual. And I learned a lot from it. It was really fun. And the first person I showed it to said, “Oh, that’s so funny. I don’t think it’s art.”
Tricia: [00:22:24] No way.
Rachel: [00:22:26] And I was sort of like, Well, okay, that doesn’t matter to me. Like, I just did it, I made it. I was embodying them honestly, authentically, in the way that I saw them coming across just from this limited amount of information that they left unknowingly on my machine. And it got me thinking, too, about all these issues of privacy and, you know, authority, and how we leave our information. We kind of shed it as we go through life, and we don’t think that much about it. Now, of course, it is more of a topic of conversation, but at the at the turn of the century, it was just beginning to be something, as you know, Facebook was coming and all the other social media that followed.
Tricia: [00:23:15] Well, it’s so interesting. Again, “it’s funny, but it’s not art.” I mean, that there’s the conviction to say, no, I’m sticking with this. You know, after somebody says that to you.
Rachel: [00:23:27] Yeah.
Tricia: [00:23:28] How easily, if we’re not standing our ground, we can go, okay, and you could have shelved that. And when in fact, it I mean, is it safe to say it’s one of your most successful pieces? And I love the fact about how scared you were doing it, you know.
Rachel: [00:23:43] I know.
Tricia: [00:23:44] You know, but it’s the good scared, you know? It’s the good scared. It’s that scared of like, I’m just doing this, you know, I’m just I got to do that. I want to see how this pans out.
Rachel: [00:23:56] I want to see what happens. And that’s why I make art. I just want to see what’s going to happen.
Tricia: [00:24:10] We’ll get back to the second half of our conversation in a moment. But right now I want to tell you about our sponsor Interabang Books, a Dallas-based independent bookstore with a terrific online collection. At Interabang, their dedicated staff of book enthusiasts will guide you on your search for knowledge and the excitement of discovery. Shop their curated collection online at Interbangbooks.com. That’s Interabang — I N T E R A B A N G books dot com. Stay with us through the end of the episode to receive a special online offer.
Tricia: [00:25:02] Talk to me a little bit about your daily practice.
Rachel: [00:25:06] For well over a decade, I have been tweeting once a day, only once a day, exactly 140 characters, the daily life of a working artist. And that even though Twitter expanded to 280 characters, I’ve kept that 140 character maximum, absolute. Actually, I will say not even maximum because I do it exactly 140 characters because this is something that you and I have talked about, you know, having rules, having limits actually helps you be more creative. I think certainly for me. And so I’ve been doing that and I actually have a list. Every morning I make a little box and they’re four things and it’s meditate, exercise, studio, tweet. And that’s my day. Pretty much every day I feel that that is what makes the day a good day for me — to do those things.
Tricia: [00:26:03] Yeah, the simplicity of that, it’s manageable.
Rachel: [00:26:08] Because studio could mean I took one stitch or I walked in and I took a deep breath and I looked at things and then I ran out because I had to go, you know, do something else.
Tricia: [00:26:20] My husband, Eric, had his accident about 18 months now at this point, and it was all consuming. I would walk into my studio and just stand there. Yeah. I would just stand there and go, okay, this is still here, the space is still here. And I would touch stuff, you know, and then I would go back and do what I needed to do. You know, but it is sometimes just grounding ourselves.
Rachel: [00:26:45] And keeping the energy alive in there just by visiting and being there and having your presence in it.
Tricia: [00:26:52] You know, listeners who are practicing artist or aspiring artists, there is something about having this daily thread of work, whether, like you said, it’s one stitch or whether it’s the blessing of a whole day where you can spend a whole day doing it. But sometimes that’s not possible, you know?
Rachel: [00:27:09] Right. Or even just the thought, just taking a moment to think about your practice. I am so fortunate. I get to do what I want every day. I mean, I’ve worked my life in a way that I can afford to do that. I’m one of the fortunate ones that I get to make art. And I don’t think when I’m making something, you know, is this going to sell? It’s more I need to make this. Let the chips fall where they may.
Tricia: [00:27:36] I’m going to challenge you a little bit on saying I’m one of the fortunate ones that gets to make art. You work really hard at this.
Rachel: [00:27:42] I do.
Tricia: [00:27:43] And I want you to tell the story, if you can, about all of the rejections that you got from The DeCordova. The back story is just of every artist is there’s a battle that gets fought quite a bit, you know.
Rachel: [00:27:57] For sure.
Tricia: [00:27:58] You can look at this beautiful painting and not know what went behind the painting and or read that page and you don’t know what went behind. In your case, you had this incredible solo show at The DeCordova Museum, but no one knew that beforehand the museum had repeatedly rejected you for its group show, The Biennial.
Rachel: [00:28:19] Well, for years and I mean ten years I think it was practically, I had a studio visit from the curator, Nick Capasso. He was then at The DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts. He’s now the director of the Fitchburg Art Museum. But at the time, he would conduct studio visits with artists in Boston. And every year he would come to my studio. He really seemed to dig the work. He always was enthusiastic, always had very smart things to say. He really understood what I was doing. He would put me up for consideration every year and every year I didn’t get in. Finally, I think it was around the 9th or 10th year, he said, “You know what, I think, you have so much work. Let’s do a solo show. I’m going to put this before the board.” And the upshot is that I got a fabulous museum solo show out of this. And then because the irony was not lost on me that I couldn’t get in for a decade, but I finally got this solo show. He and I talked about this and he had saved all of his notes from studio visits and I had, of course, saved all of his letters, you know, saying, “Once again, I’m so sorry, Rachel. This didn’t seem to come to fruition.” And we gathered those together and in the exhibition catalog, which was designed by the brilliant Anita Meyer, in conjunction with, you know, my thoughts and Nick’s as well, and some other people, we put these rejection letters and his notes on the inside pages, folded inside, kind of hidden within the pages of the exhibition catalog. And they were perforated on one edge so you could open and read what was in there, or you could just kind of peek or some people just won’t even know. But I love the idea that hidden within the pages of this book commemorating the exhibition were all the notes of rejection.
Tricia: [00:30:20] It’s just brilliant. It’s the life of an artist. And if you’re paying attention, you learn what you can out of that failure and you move on. I mean, in our manifesto, it’s “failure is your friend.” I mean, it doesn’t feel good all the time, but you take it and you make it into something that can make you stronger.
Rachel: [00:30:39] Every rejection just leads you to an acceptance.
Tricia: [00:30:42] Talk to me about the Nora Ephron piece and how you came to doing it.
Rachel: [00:30:49] I was so happy and excited to be commissioned by The New York Times for their issue called The Lives They Lived, which as many people know, it’s this, you know, wonderful issue they do at the new year. And it it just celebrates the people who’ve died over that last year. They invite writers and artists to do a page.
Tricia: [00:31:10] And just to interrupt you quickly, I wait for the last Sunday of every December to go get the hard copy of the paper so that I can read every single one of those obituaries because they’re brilliant. And I was just so excited to stumble across you.
Rachel: [00:31:25] Thank you. Well, I agree. It’s the issue that you definitely want, I always want to get in the hard copy. So the art director there had commissioned me for a couple other things, so I was excited to work with her and I requested an actual hard copy of The New York Times the day that Nora Ephron’s obituary came out. Because I realized she had died within that year, and I wanted to do a tribute to her. And so they sent me the actual newspaper. And from the obituary, I cut out the tiny letters and formed the text from the script that she had written for the scene where Meg Ryan fakes the orgasm in the deli.
Tricia: [00:32:13] In When Harry Met Sally.
Rachel: [00:32:15] When Harry Met Sally. Exactly. So it formed this little, very tiny, intimate collage. One more thing about the Nora Ephron piece. I got an email out of the blue from a woman who said she was Nora’s personal trainer for many, many years. And she saw the piece in The New York Times and she said Nora would have loved it and just made me so happy.
Tricia: [00:32:39] That’s fantastic. I think that’s so much about your work. It’s beautiful, but it’s also very smart.
Rachel: [00:32:45] I think I use beauty as a strategy, really, to get people to come around and take a look. And then if you want to go more deeply, you can go more deeply about the other things I’m talking about.
Tricia: [00:33:01] In my work, I can talk about some pretty heavy topics sometimes. I had a friend of mine say that I cook things in comedy so people can eat them.
Rachel: [00:33:12] That’s great.
Tricia: [00:33:14] I mean, if you’re talking about infidelity and, you know, divorce and, you know, all this kind of stuff, but it’s the same with you. Your strategy is beauty. So people will come in and then get into some topics that may be deeper or more profound than they were expecting.
Rachel: [00:33:28] The very first mature body of work that I did was about my son’s long three-month hospitalization at birth, and that was a way for me to process the pain of this experience that I had. You know, It’s life. It’s death.
Tricia: [00:33:47] It was an extraordinary piece. I can remember seeing that at your solo show at The DeCordova. It just showed so clearly the enormity of that experience for you. But it was beautiful. What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Rachel: [00:33:59] You know, the pandemic has really slowed things down, pushed things off. But I have just gotten word that the performance that I am collaborating on with Daniel Fish, Ted Hearne, who’s a composer with the poetry of Dorothea Lasky, called In Your Mouth. And we’ve had our world premiere at the Walker Art Center, but that was pre-pandemic. And now we have a date for Carnegie Hall in October 2023. So that’s a good thing.
Tricia: [00:34:30] But I want to say a little bit real quick as we wrap up — In Your Mouth, which you’re touring again and what Ted Hearne had to say about you. “I think she’s a really brilliant artist,” Hearne says, commenting on the way she works with mundane found materials and the drawings she’s making on stage. “She’s cutting up these tiny food stickers and something that, to me really spoke to how you can interact with the structured world around you and make something really, really special in it.” That’s exactly what you do, Rachel, and so we’re just delighted to have you on the show. Thank you so much. Again, everybody, go to rachelperrystudio.com. And thank you so much again, Rachel, for joining us.
Rachel: [00:35:14] Thank you, Tricia. It’s always a delight to talk to you.
Tricia: [00:35:26] Well, I love talking with Rachel. Her commitment to her practice is so inspiring, and she always gets me thinking. Here’s a few questions for you to think about, too. Is there something you’d like to do, some chance you’d like to take, but it doesn’t seem practical? What materials are right in front of you that you can use to start making art? And if you don’t have one already, what daily practice can you begin? You can check out Rachel’s daily practice on Twitter @racyperry and follow her on Instagram @rachelperrystudio.
If you haven’t had a chance to download the No Time to Be Timid manifesto yet, make sure to visit my website, triciaroseburt.com. And while you’re there, please reach out and give us some feedback about the show. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
And if you feel like this is no time to be timid in your own life, then maybe I can help you with that. In my private coaching practice, I help my clients to tell and live better stories. Some of them are artists and creatives who want to express themselves in a new medium. Others are leaders who want to motivate groups to take action. And many of them are business professionals who want to better communicate with their customers and employees. You can reach out to me at triciaroseburt.com and make sure to follow me on Instagram @triciaroseburt.
One of the most important resources in my studio is my library and our friends at Interabang are going to help you build your creative book collection by offering our listeners a 10% discount on the books we recommend on the show. Start with “Art Matters” by Neil Gaiman. It’s a small book with big inspiration, beginning with his words, “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” Go to interabangbooks.com and use promo code “Not timid.” That’s Interabangbooks.com. Promo code “Not timid.”
Thanks for listening. I hope you’ll join us for Episode Seven, “Constraints are opportunities.” We’ll be talking with Dan Hurlin, an international award-winning artist and pioneering puppeteer who makes puppets that are impossible to describe. Make sure to tune in and remember, this is no time to be timid.
No Time to be Timid is written and produced by me, Tricia Rose Burt. Our executive producer is Mia Rovegno, and our sound engineer is Adam Arnone of Echo Finch. If you like what you hear, please spread the word, subscribe to the show, and review us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen. No Time to be Timid is a presentation of I Will Be Good Productions.