Rachael Van Dyke is a mid-career artist represented by LaFontsee Galleries (MI), Somebody's Gallery (Michigan), The Ann Arbor Art Center, MI, and Fuller Art House Gallery (Ohio). She is an avid traveler with recent art residencies at Cill Rialaig Arts Center in Ireland, in the historic town of Tusa, Sicily with Officina Stamperia del Notaio, and on the remote island of Isle Royale in Lake Superior with the United States National Park Service. Van Dyke’s residencies have also included Studio Ginestrelle, Assisi, Italy, Le Jardin Botanique, in Marnay sur Seine, France, TICA with the Art Institute of Chicago, and Les Tasis located in the Ardeche Valley of Southern France. She is also a Fulbright Memorial Fund teacher recipient to Japan. Van Dyke has had solo art exhibitions with the Forest Hills Fine Art Center, the Power Center of Performing Arts in Ann Arbor, MI and the University of Michigan Hospital Gifts for Art program. She earned her MAE at the Kendall College of Art and Design and has worked 14 years as an art and design educator for all grade levels including adjunct instructor at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI. Rachael Van Dyke has participated in numerous public presentations and adult workshops including talks on art and creativity, art and the spiritual, and on how space and place influence a body of work. Van Dyke also engages in social activism through artmaking. The Future People, the design team of Van Dyke and her husband Cameron, currently is exhibiting work on tour with the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.
Growing up in a large Italian family where emotions and energy were high, I learned early on to create quickly, to work collaboratively, and to not become too attached to my work. With seven children to care for my mother and father would encourage my siblings and I to be active outdoors and creative indoors, requiring us to pick up anything we played with or created at the end of each day. Knowing that my creations would be gone by bedtime I was quick to design, problem-solve, create and build everything I dreamed of making for that day. I learned to say goodbye to my work and had an eagerness for something new and fresh for the next day. This childhood dynamic creates a need in me as an artist to be actively exploring and expressing new ideas and materials. I make work very quickly and intensely, often cutting through the paint surfaces and restating my lines. I want my materials to be bold and work fast with me. I find myself most comfortable when away from the tradition of easel and am often on my hands and knees actively engaged with the painting, my bare feet exposed to the cool concrete floor of my studio.
In the beginning of my artistic career I worked regionally, heading up to northern Michigan for a weekend of plein air painting. I found myself taking photographs that were never looked at again, as my hand seemed to only paint what I experienced in the moment. I realized this way of working was a package. A package of people, place, and landscape that could not be revisited through photographs. So over the course of years I have made it my intention to participate in numerous art residencies throughout Michigan, the United States, and Europe. Most residencies are one month in length, but I recently experienced a nine-month residency while living off the grid on a 1000 acre preserve in the Appalachian Mountains. These residencies, particularly ones abroad, create boundaries that I am forced to work with and cause me to alter my technique. Most of these obstacles are related to traveling abroad; adjusting to new studio space constraints, change of temperature, lack or loss of art materials, poor foreign language skills, and shipping limitations. These boundaries also create stimulation for me as an artist as I am forced to understand and come to terms with my limitations to see what I can create. I have to be open to a new color palette or a new visual language to express the land. I love to explore the region through walking or bicycling, visiting museums and historic sites, and trying my hand at engaging with local residents. Each body of work is influenced by place and I hope tells a story of the people and land that I encountered.