In this series, Manager of Visitor and Family Engagement Emily Bray highlights participants in This Is My Day Job: The 2018 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 30, 2018.
Tell us about yourself.
Bio – Racquel Keller creates painting, drawing, print, photography, sculpture and assemblage art. She constructs imagery inspired by the natural world and her collection of vintage objects, with an eye toward capturing the feeling of nostalgia they evoke. Racquel was born in Northern Virginia and has resided in Maryland since 2003. She earned her BS in Graphic Design, with a concentration in Fine Arts, from The American University and also holds a Certificate of Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University. Presently, she works as an Art Instructor and Artist. She is currently an instructor at the Greenbelt Community Center, the College Park Arts Exchange and for select art workshops at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. Her classes have included, among others, Plein Air Painting, Still Life Painting and Watercolor. She regularly offers workshops on a variety of mediums and subjects. She has been actively exhibiting her work in the DC Metropolitan area for decades and is a current Artist in Residence at The Greenbelt Community Center (Maryland, USA) and will be a visiting Artist in Residence at Chateau d’Orquevaux (Orquevaux, France) Fall of 2018.
Artist Statement – The aim of my work is to create an emotional resonance for the viewer through the exploration of nostalgia and what it means to us as humans. Through my painting, I work to explore the relationship between people, objects and the power of memories to transport us to a different time and place. Ultimately, it is an exploration of why people save certain things and perhaps more significantly, an exploration of why I save things. My work is grounded in my vast collection of natural and vintage household objects gathered over more than four decades. These objects are at once familiar and mysterious, containing stories we may never know. I paint in vibrant tones and often with a strong raking light. With carefully crafted composition and light, my paintings honor still life painting while simultaneously honoring abstract painting via an active abstracted background. While my still lifes are unmistakably modern, I paint everyday objects of daily life from a bygone era, striving to give them a deeper significance by creating a portrait which forces the viewer to see an object which they might otherwise overlook. The strength of my palette, light, and brushstroke are vital to a fuller understanding of my work.
What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique or interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?
I am one of the Museum Shop Supervisors. I think one of the interesting things people may not know about the museum shop is that it is a sensitively curated visitor experience which is designed to further connect the individual with the exhibition on display. Everything which Pete Bernal, our Museum Shop Manager, selects for the shop is carefully considered months in advance and then thoughtfully displayed in themed vignettes which make it more accessible to the visitor.
Who is your favorite artist in the collection?
I love Chaim Soutine for the vitality of his brush strokes and I love Sally Mann for the quiet dark mystery of her photographs. Both evoke emotion in totally different styles and mediums.
What is your favorite space within The Phillips Collection?
The music room. I love the early 1900s architectural details especially when juxtaposed with modern art like Alex Katz. The contrast is striking!
What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2018 Staff Show (or your work in general)?
The aim of my work is to create an emotional resonance for the viewer through the exploration of nostalgia and what it means to us as humans. Through my painting, I work to explore the relationship between people, objects and the power of memories to transport us to a different time and place. The work reflects on memory, mortality and the cycle of life.
This Is My Day Job: The James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view through September 30, 2018. Join us for a reception in the exhibition on September 20, 5-7 pm.