Rachel Wolfson Smith is known for her mural scale graphite drawings of dueling motorcycles and crashing cars, reminiscent of Renaissance battle paintings. After her childhood home burned down she began to use drawing to illustrate themes from warning myths. Like Icarus getting too close to the sun, what goes up must come down. In her drawings, contrasts between masculinity and femininity, motion and stillness, and order and chaos are as important as the crashes themselves. Aggressive pencil and eraser marks are punctuated with precise rendering, resulting in scenes that appear photographic from a distance and abstract close up. “I’ve always been obsessed with cars” Wolfson Smith says, “but my races and crashes are symbols of attraction and consequence, they are metaphors for life.” From afar, her black and white subjects feel subdued yet regal, and as you get closer the underlying meaning of these luxurious, adrenaline-pumping, and idolatrous symbols unravels.
Rachel Wolfson Smith is a full time artist living and working in Austin, TX. Originally from Baltimore, MD, she earned her BFA in painting from Maryland Institute College of Art, and her MFA in Painting from Indiana University. After following the Corot trail in Italy as an Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant recipient, she spent six years as an Art Professor at Indiana University and Western Oregon University. She's been an artist in residence at Halka Sanat in Istanbul, and the Babyan Culture House in Ibrahimpasa, Turkey, and will spend the next six months creating permanent works for six fire stations as the recipient of the AFD Residency Grant through Austin's Art in Public Places program.
Find Rachel Wolfson Smith on Instagram @wolfsonsmith