Hello Andromeda:Finding art in nature

As a small child, Visual artist Rachel Muldez spent hours picking up rocks and seeds to build homes for small creatures or simply make designs on the ground. With a wealth of knowledge and continual study of our world and the cosmos, Muldez now works with nature to accurately reflect her personal aesthetic and naturalist theories. Muldez’s work can be seen at the Mesquite Arts Center until March 28. To learn more about Muldez and her work, visit rachelmuldez.com.

On your Instagram you wrote that you believe that all existence is one. Can you explain that?

It's more of an Eastern concept; every living thing, maybe even God, is all one thing or that it all came from one thing.

How old were you when you first discovered your artistic side?

I was probably about 4 years old. I was outside playing, making mud pies and playing with nature. I had years of college art only to turn around and do what I love most and that's playing in the dirt. 

When did you decide that art was the route you wanted to go?

It was the end of my junior year in college. I was a pre-med student – forensic science major, and I took one art class. I had taken art classes in high school and fancied myself an artist then, but I thought I'd be a doctor and I didn't think I'd chose art. But then I took one college art class and realized this is a major, people do this, and people actually make this their career. 

Were you hesitant to make that change from science to art? 

Oh yes, that was scary, but it felt a lot better. Although I love science, I think I felt that I would incorporate the two so it would be fine. I wanted to be a medical illustrator and that's kind of how I eased myself into it.

How would you describe your artistic style?

My artistic style is peaceful, nature-loving and nature-collaborative.

What sort of materials do you work with?

A lot of it is found in nature; otherwise I purchase natural items such as chia seeds, natural gums and the inner bark of the mulberry tree. 

With this particular show, it's almost all bark. All the wall pieces are 100 percent bark held together by 100 percent cotton; it's still all natural.

Is there a reason why you chose to go the all-natural route? 

For most of my college (career) and through my first round of MFA (master of fine arts) I was using synthetics, there was still a nature theme. When I was in Houston I did a lot of sculptures there; it was all about hurricanes and sort of the ravaged landscape, and for my final exhibition I made the whole landscape look like it was bleeding and torn up, and I used a lot of synthetics. In my MFA show at the University of Dallas, I used a lot of synthetic silicone and synthetic foams, things that I actually combined together and made silicone when there was none before. It would never break down. 

In 2011 I realized I was actually producing artwork that would never degrade. Sure, I want things to be archival and I do achieve that, but it doesn't have to be impossible to break down. 

When was your first professional creation?

The first time I sold artwork was in Houston, so about 2009, and my first professional publication was in 2007. 

Where do you find most of your inspiration?

Definitely from my nature walks. Before my nature walks I tend to meditate, and before I make anything or work in the studio I meditate in the studio. Before I install a show I meditate. So there's the inspiration that I see, and then there's inspiration that just comes to me out of nowhere when I'm just at peace. 

When I go on my nature walks I collect a lot (of items) so my studio is full of debris. There might be something special that I saw and I get to see that every day when I'm working, and five years later I know exactly what I'm going to do with it. So I think just the objects themselves are an inspiration.  

What advice would you give young artists?

Work really hard. Everything that you learn and the way you learn it is for a reason, so don't skip any steps. Write all of your ideas down and try everything you hear about and all the critiques you get. Once you've learned everything then be whatever you want.

What's your goal for the next 10 years?

I definitely want to move into public art, maybe land art, and I want a little bit more of the international scene. I got that a little bit in college – a couple of shows, workshops and speaking engagements in the Czech Republic – but I want more of that because I get a lot of inspiration from when I travel – the nature, the interaction, the people, everything. 

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