FIELD NOTES

Rachel Sard

Artist in Residence

FIELD NOTES

Rachel Sard

Artist in Residence

FIELD NOTES

Rachel Sard

Artist in Residence

The hashtag #tribe has recently gained traction as a synonym for one’s core group of friends, prized on Instagram for shared thoughts, actions and often appearances. But to define one’s tribe by likeness defies the fundamental function of tribes throughout history, wherein the ultimate strength of a group relied upon the differences, rather than the similarities, of its members. By divvying up daily tasks, with each individual contributing a distinct ability — from hunting to basket weaving to healing — these early societies upped their chances of survival.

The hashtag #tribe has recently gained traction as a synonym for one’s core group of friends, prized on Instagram for shared thoughts, actions and often appearances. But to define one’s tribe by likeness defies the fundamental function of tribes throughout history, wherein the ultimate strength of a group relied upon the differences, rather than the similarities, of its members. By divvying up daily tasks, with each individual contributing a distinct ability — from hunting to basket weaving to healing — these early societies upped their chances of survival.

While the physical intent of tribes has indefinitely evolved, the persistence of their essential attributes — the pooling of skills and support networks — remains existential and is one of the reasons we’ve always prioritized community at wMM. In fact, we began building our “tribe” even prior to founding the brand by surrounding ourselves with thoughtful women who bring a whole new level of talent to the table. Artist Rachel Sard has been one of these extraordinary members since we met her in college. Over the years, she has continued to refine her unique creative powers and agreed to contribute them to our F/W18 collection, collaborating with us on a frosty print inspired by the Southwestern desert in winter.

 

Meet Rachel.

While the physical intent of tribes has indefinitely evolved, the persistence of their essential attributes — the pooling of skills and support networks — remains existential and is one of the reasons we’ve always prioritized community at wMM. In fact, we began building our “tribe” even prior to founding the brand by surrounding ourselves with thoughtful women who bring a whole new level of talent to the table. Artist Rachel Sard has been one of these extraordinary members since we met her in college. Over the years, she has continued to refine her unique creative powers and agreed to contribute them to our F/W18 collection, collaborating with us on a frosty print inspired by the Southwestern desert in winter.

 

Meet Rachel.

When did you first identify as an “artist”?

It took a long time for me to use that word. Instead, I would say, “I’m studying to be an artist,” or qualify the term in some other silly way. I think I just felt like an imposter at first. It wasn’t until I heard enough other people refer to me as an artist that I finally warmed up to using the word.

 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Green-lighting an idea: I have more ideas than I could count each day, but I squash 99% of them before I even flesh them out. Only a few will make it to sketch form and even fewer make it to the canvas. Even then they’re not safe, though; most of my finished paintings have a couple failed attempts hiding underneath!

When did you first identify as an “artist”?

It took a long time for me to use that word. Instead, I would say, “I’m studying to be an artist,” or qualify the term in some other silly way. I think I just felt like an imposter at first. It wasn’t until I heard enough other people refer to me as an artist that I finally warmed up to using the word.

 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Green-lighting an idea: I have more ideas than I could count each day, but I quash 99% of them before I even flesh them out. Only a few will make it to sketch form and even fewer make it to the canvas. Even then they’re not safe, though; most of my finished paintings have a couple failed attempts hiding underneath!

A work of art (of yours) you still love.

This was my first painting in grad school. We were only allowed to use three colors: white, transparent earth red and blue black. I learned so much from this painting.

The most recent work you've completed.

I don’t have picture of the finished piece, but it’s almost there in this pic…

Describe the inspiration-to-creation process behind the print you developed for our Fall collection.

I pulled inspiration from the process of artist Simon Hantai in his “Blancs” series. We crumpled up and flattened out dozens of sheets of canvas and paper of different weights and textures. Then, using the winter scene you ladies provided for me as inspiration, I painted landscapes across the smooth but broken surfaces of these crumpled-up paper pancakes. Once dry, I was able to unfurl and smooth out the paintings. What emerged were shards of the original image, scattered about and unrecognizable. All that remained of the original painting was the palette and, I might argue, hints of that wintery mood. The process was both enjoyable and, at times, frustrating; the product is the result of equal parts control and chaos. I love how it turned out.

 

What is your favorite season in NYC?

Fall!!!

 

You recently moved to Greenpoint – how is the artistic community in the neighborhood?

I adore Greenpoint; there is no place I’d rather be. It has all the best parts of Manhattan, but with time to breathe. There is also an incredible artist community here and having a studio in the Java Studios building gives me a front-row seat. I am always surrounded by talented visual artists, musicians and writers.  

Describe the inspiration-to-creation process behind the print you developed for our Fall collection.

I pulled inspiration from the process of artist Simon Hantai in his “Blancs” series. We crumpled up and flattened out dozens of sheets of canvas and paper of different weights and textures. Then, using the winter scene you ladies provided for me as inspiration, I painted landscapes across the smooth but broken surfaces of these crumpled-up paper pancakes. Once dry, I was able to unfurl and smooth out the paintings. What emerged were shards of the original image, scattered about and unrecognizable. All that remained of the original painting was the palette and, I might argue, hints of that wintery mood. The process was both enjoyable and, at times, frustrating; the product is the result of equal parts control and chaos. I love how it turned out.

 

What is your favorite season in NYC?

Fall!!!

 

You recently moved to Greenpoint – how is the artistic community in the neighborhood?

I adore Greenpoint; there is no place I’d rather be. It has all the best parts of Manhattan, but with time to breathe. There is also an incredible artist community here and having a studio in the Java Studios building gives me a front-row seat. I am always surrounded by talented visual artists, musicians and writers.  

A talk by an artist you love.

Describe your morning routine.

Wake up, make coffee, walk dog, make the dog breakfast, make myself breakfast and get my butt to the studio!

 

Do you prefer painting in the morning or at night?

Definitely the morning. I can’t do it very often but, when I can, I love to start freakishly early, when it feels like nobody else is awake. It’s thrilling.

 

How do you fuel a studio session?

I’m a huge breakfast person, so I never leave home without breakfast, which is most often a giant bowl of California oatmeal — plus coffee, of course.

Describe your morning routine.

Wake up, make coffee, walk dog, make the dog breakfast, make myself breakfast and get my butt to the studio!

 

Do you prefer painting in the morning or at night?

Definitely the morning. I can’t do it very often but, when I can, I love to start freakishly early, when it feels like nobody else is awake. It’s thrilling.

 

How do you fuel a studio session?

I’m a huge breakfast person, so I never leave home without breakfast, which is most often a giant bowl of California oatmeal — plus coffee, of course.

A song on repeat in the studio.

It changes every week. This week it's...

 How do you alleviate stress?

Hanging out with my dog, Emmie. She is truly stress-alleviation incarnate. She’s the sweetest thing in the world and always game for any adventure or just snuggling on the couch. We won the dog lottery with her.

 

The biggest issue facing humanity.

 

A reason to be optimistic.

 

What does the term feminist mean to you?

To be a feminist is to stand for equality. It’s as infinitely complicated and as astonishingly simple as that.    

An image of your true self.

A movie scene that always makes you laugh.

What are five things that are always in your kitchen?

Balsamic vinegar, coffee, hot sauce, popcorn, yogurt.

 

Your go-to takeout place.

Every Sunday night, my husband, my brother Mike and I order a Thai feast while watching an episode of the Sopranos. Mike and I never saw it, so we started from the beginning and are obviously completely hooked.

 

What is the most important value your parents taught you?

It sounds cheesy, but they gave me the gift of a close and loving family and taught me to cherish it.

 

If you could re-live one day of your life, what would it be?

Is it too boring to say wedding day? When else in life do you get to have all the people you love most in one place, and for a happy reason?

What are five things that are always in your kitchen?

Balsamic vinegar, coffee, hot sauce, popcorn, yogurt.

 

Your go-to takeout place.

Every Sunday night, my husband, my brother Mike and I order a Thai feast while watching an episode of the Sopranos. Mike and I never saw it, so we started from the beginning and are obviously completely hooked.

 

What is the most important value your parents taught you?

It sounds cheesy, but they gave me the gift of a close and loving family and taught me to cherish it.

 

If you could re-live one day of your life, what would it be?

Is it too boring to say wedding day? When else in life do you get to have all the people you love most in one place, and for a happy reason?

A song that reminds you of being 16

A place that has changed your life.

The New York Academy of Art. Where Rachel attended graduate school.

Items you always keep in your studio - besides the necessary.

Comfy shoes, lots of art books, a dog bed, a human skull replica and a yoga mat.

A site you visit every day.

 

The last site you bookmarked.

 

What are three words you use to describe your art?

It’s an investigation of texture, transparency and luminosity.

 

What would you be if not an artist?

A veterinarian — 100%.

 

What are you looking forward to this year, personally and professionally?

I’m planning on having my first solo show this year, so I’m very excited about that!

A site you visit every day.

 

The last site you bookmarked.

 

What are three words you use to describe your art?

It’s an investigation of texture, transparency and luminosity.

 

What would you be if not an artist?

A veterinarian — 100%.

 

What are you looking forward to this year, personally and professionally?

I’m planning on having my first solo show this year, so I’m very excited about that!