Rachel Siminoski

“Honest and thoughtful. Outspoken, witty, and definitely stubborn.”

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I’m a painter currently based in Charlotte, NC. I graduated from UNCG in 2017 with my BFA in Drawing and Printmaking, and currently work for a screen printing company. I run and curate an online publication, Reciprocal Art Magazine , which serves as an opportunity for emerging artists to share their work. I also have an artist residency coming up in Clifton Springs, New York at Main Street Arts for the month of March!

Every career choice has its obstacles, but financial stability can be especially hard to attain in the arts. I’ve also found that finding a healthy work/studio balance can be challenging. When I took a job in the arts after graduating, I thought that it would be amazing to be surrounded by art all day at work and then come home and work in the studio. And while it was an amazing experience and I learned so much from it, I found that it was sort of creatively draining for me at that stage in my life. I would love to get an MFA in painting in the next few years. I miss being in a really creative and driven environment. Being around that kind of energy is really motivating.

Long term, I would love to be able to support myself and paint full-time, while still having other creative projects, like running Reciprocal. I would also love to start my own business, and maybe some kind of cat sanctuary.

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I’m not sure what I’ll be up to for the next year or so, which is a little bit scary but mostly really freeing.
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I’m really lucky to have a family that supports me in every aspect of my life, although it hasn’t always been that way. When I first told my parents that I was changing my major to art, they were disappointed and strongly discouraged me from studying anything that didn’t easily lead to financial success. After some time they saw how happy I was and quickly became proud of me for following my instincts and doing what I love. Now they are my biggest fans and unsurprisingly, my most extensive collectors.

I also have an older brother who is extremely wise for his age, and has always been a huge source of support.

Most of my paintings resemble some kind of ambiguous enclosure or interior space in which biomorphic and structural forms interact. I’ve always found the intersection of separation and protection interesting- the idea that in order to protect something, you have to separate it from something or someone else. I think about the immune system, and all of the different lines of defense each person has biologically against pathogens. Function is also something that I think about a lot, and in all of my paintings each abstract form attempts to serve a particular function: often protecting, covering, or supporting one another.

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Getting an education in fine art really changed my life. I know a lot of people don’t see the point in going to school for the arts, but I evolved so much as an artist because of the insightful professors and students I worked with at UNCG. I don’t regret it one bit.

Daily Life…

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I try to stick to a routine but I find that things rarely go as planned. Coffee is always a great place to start. I also really enjoy getting ready in the morning. Picking out my clothes, adjusting my bangs for at least 10 minutes, and doing my makeup.

My favorite beauty product is probably blush. I have two shades by NARS that I absolutely love. I really like anything that is pink or bright, which is ironically the opposite of my paintings. I have a lot of fun with my makeup and the way that I dress, and that brings me a lot of joy.

It’s less about making myself look a certain way, and more about taking time for myself.
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Pragmatically, making to-do lists helps me stay focused the most. I have a habit of being hard on myself, especially when it comes to productivity, and having a list to look back on and see how much I’ve accomplished is reassuring.

I don’t have a fixed schedule when it comes to the studio, although it would probably be beneficial. I try my best to spend time in the studio everyday. I think it was Diebenkorn who said in an interview that he spent hours sitting in front of his paintings, just looking at them. I think that you’re always thinking through possible solutions, even if only subconsciously. My professor Mariam Stephan once said something along the lines of, “Let them sit and talk to each other,” so I like to keep my studio full of paintings (finished and unfinished) that I can refer to while I’m working.

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I think that my interest in the human body and various biological structures has found its way into my work. I originally went to school to study biology, and my dad works in the chemical industry, so I’ve been surrounded by science for most of my life, and I think that gave me a very logical mindset. I approach my paintings in a somewhat systematic way, and I definitely think that’s a product of my upbringing. Although I don’t depict things from life (other than the odd portrait), a lot of the architectural forms in my paintings reference structures such as fences, walls, and other barriers. So I’m definitely inspired by things that I see on a daily basis.

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I view my paintings as an extension of my own body in a very abstract sense. So although I approach them systematically, I have a very personal connection with the images that I create.

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“I just want to be happy and take pride in everything that I do."

I think as I became older I realized that I was censoring myself creatively because of the people around me. Once I realized that I was more happy when I wore, said, or made what I wanted, it didn’t make sense to do anything else.

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Do what feels right. Listen to other people’s advice but don’t feel the need to always follow it.

Keep making work as much as possible, and try not to always worry about whether it’s good or not.

Take the time to write about your work. It can bring a lot of clarity to what you’re making and why.

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Inspirations?

At the moment, the artist that I’m looking at the most is Per Kirkeby, an amazing Danish painter who just passed away earlier this year. He was a firm believer in every image having some kind of structure, and that really resonates with me. I particularly love his later work, from the mid 2000’s and forward.

My parents are my role models- not in an artistic way, necessarily, but just as people. They both came from a difficult childhood and were able to provide my brother and I with so much. I feel very lucky to have been raised by them, and I value their guidance everyday.

See also Lee N. Smith III, Brian Robertson, Terry Winters, Al Held, Marvin Saltzman, Mariam Stephan, Piet Mondrian, Heath West, and Lee Krasner.