Rachel Wolfson Smith is an Austin, TX based artist known for her immersive graphite drawings. She exhibits nationally and internationally, most recently at the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art in CA, the Fort Worth Arts Center and ICOSA gallery in TX. Wolfson is a 2018 alumni of The Contemporary Austin’s Crit Group, and has been an artist in residence at the Austin Fire Department, the Babyan Culture House and Halka Sanat in Turkey. She has been awarded grants from foundations such as the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, the Awesome Foundation, and the City of Austin for research and community engagement. She received her BFA from MICA and her MFA from Indiana University, both in painting. Wolfson is a current artist in residence at 100W Corsicana, and her exhibition Reenactments of a Perpetual Cycle with Edison Peñafiel runs through August, 2019.

Follow @wolfsonsmith on Instagram for studio updates.


About the Work

I’m very interested in deconstructing complicated patterns. In my eyes, landscapes hold clues about the people who live(d) in them. By focusing on the landscape, I’m focusing on people. On some of my recent landscape drawings I’ve written directly onto the paper, and I see this as my internal dialogue coming out as thoughts floating across the page.

I work like a painter and a draftsperson. In graphite I can construct spaces and make the illusions within them believable, and the history of each decision is marked on the paper, even when erased. As my drawings get larger and larger I become more interested in making them feel immersive, like installations. The experience for the viewer is a fascinating piece of the puzzle. I am very concerned with composition. I studied, and still study, the geometry of narrative Renaissance paintings because I believe that they hold a gestalt structure that communicates a story to the viewer in a very smart way. They are also theatrically staged, and I enjoy how rigid they can feel, even when communicating movement. I create a sense of movement in my drawings by erasing into edges of rendered areas that get too precise. This opens the drawings up and lets your eye move around the page. Combining the unstable areas with static/still areas creates a tension that, to me, relates to the cadence of life.

Plants fit into this because they are continually focused on one task, growing. In my life, where I am distracted or pulled in different directions, the plants seem wise and right now I feel I have something to learn from them. I’m very interested in deconstructing complicated patterns, and my landscapes reflect that. They are dense and knotted, and by untangling them, an underlying structure unveils itself, and maybe, some bigger truth.