From the studio: Dylan Rose Rheingold

Studio Visit

Your work has been described as totally confident with diaristic qualities, “eliciting comfort and pushing others to feel less other.” On a formal level, what makes your work confident?
I think my work gives off an overall aura of confidence because it acknowledges this feeling of falling between the cracks in an unusually proud way. It’s confrontational and it’s honest, both the subject matter and formalism. Throughout many layers, the mistakes are intentionally uncovered. I like to expose repetition and movement over time as I draw a parallel to how our psyche interprets emotions & experiences, it’s comforting in a way. I also think that naturally people feel more comfortable being able to put others in a box. Categorizing offers a sense of security or control in a way as they help to make things universally make sense. My work, with all of its abstraction and diaristic dreamscape qualities, helps me make sense of the world. I’m creating a new visual language. This dialect takes time to understand, and is often focused on moments that typically wouldn’t feel important enough to leverage attention in our day to day life. I also love to exaggerate details and defects that stray from the classic ideology of the all American poster child. I find the celebration of these features to be welcoming and universally relatable, building character in some sort of empathetic and beautiful way.
What are your references in art history, both formally in the work and in your actual approach to making?
I am interested in the gaps and exclusions of representation within art history. In the world of painting, I don’t understand why paintings of women from their own gaze or perspective have only barely scratched the surface and why the only paintings of women fixate strictly on motherhood, youth or domestic labor. There is a lack of this in-between within very crucial transitional states. The idea of the “teenager” only emerged in America after WWII as a tool of capitalism. Preying on this age range’s obsession with consumerism, this became a time of economic expansion as women were having less children, more money and time. Considering that, it makes a bit more sense that the history of painting never reflected girlhood, as it was a period of time that was rushed through and neglected…so I reference these holes in art history quite frequently. Within my actual approach to making, I like my form to connect to my identity. Being the daughter of a Japanese-American mother & a Jewish-American father in a suburb that was not welcoming of either background made me think about my mixed makeup. I like my materials to mimic this act of mixing in a way that is untraditional and very layered.
Do you always work in your studio following a schedule, or do you also work spontaneously outside of the studio?
It’s very hard to stick to a schedule. I like to have a studio structure at least Monday through Friday but I work spontaneously outside of the studio very often. Most of my favorite drawings occur in my sketchbook or oddly enough in transit or right before bed. You can’t plan inspiration or when the moment will be just right so I definitely don’t feel confined to only making when I’m in my studio space.
How does working on multiple pieces at once affect their relationship amongst each other as images and narratives?
Working on multiple pieces at once feels natural to me. I want my works to be in dialogue with one other throughout the whole process, not only in its final state as a series once they are exhibited and installed on a wall. Seeing how they affect one another and converse, what concepts or objects or symbolism start to subconsciously repeat as well. It’s a vital part of my practice and how I interact with a body of work.
Are your paintings better read as individual works or pieces of a whole? How does taking in one image versus multiple affect their reading?
I have a non linear narrative so I like to think of my works as a collective, thinking of a story board. Story telling is at the core of my practice so it only feels natural in that way. Each painting does have its own individualized story but my work feels so much more powerful when it all comes together. Since I am so interested in domestic spaces and moments that read as mundane or banal, the emotions involved in these experiences are dynamic. Think about your headspace in any sort of situation of otherness. The way you feel isn’t linear, your emotions go up and down and hit a whole lot in between. I feel it only makes sense that my work reflects these same feelings and form.
You mentioned in a previous interview with Emergent “overworking is one of my least favorite feelings in the world” and you gravitate towards "the borderline unfinished." What does this feel like when looking at a painting and trying to discern whether it has struck that balance?
It takes a lot of patience. This is another reason why I like to work on multiple pieces at once so I have time to communicate with and reflect on my work. Even with the works that do look more on the unfinished side, there is so much history built up on that canvas within the layers. For me, success is when I force the viewer to take a moment and think. I know not everyone is going to connect with my practice and I don’t ever want to cater to an audience, so that is expected. But if I can get someone to think and elicit a new emotion or idea or connection based on their own experiences for a moment, that is pretty special. I don’t feel I can achieve that in the same way with a work so direct or obvious (which usually happens once I overwork a painting). What’s the fun in that?
What are your references when choosing a color palette?
Much of the tone in the work is reliant on color as my figures do not tend to up-hold traditional forms of beauty. Instead, I create raw representations and play with elements of exaggeration that stray from typical prototypes. The relationship between these tones and the psyche, how we interpret these palettes, is key. I want my works to feel deeply familiar to those who identify as young women. I am, in effect, shining a light on everyday emotions, social behaviors and experiences in relation to self discovery; experiences that I feel aren’t commonly advertised in the world of painting from the perspective of a women. I also reference Japanese textiles a lot and take many colors from books of kimonos, origami paper and floral arrangements.
Do you have any specific memory or memories that have stuck with you and become a part of your visual language?
I'm not sure if there is one specific core memory that has stuck with me as I feel that I have developed and explored so many memories within my work. One specific feature though that I have been exaggerating since I was a child, without even realizing it, are eye bags. It wasn't until I was exploring portraiture and strictly figures during my undergraduate BFA that I started getting critiqued on the bold decision to intentionally flaw every person I drew. At first I was confused, this was something I had always done because, like most people, I started learning to draw while looking in a mirror. I have always had dark circles under my eyes so I didn't think to hide this in my drawings as a child. I was trying to be realistic. The idea of including details that are regularly erased or covered up, not just in the world of painting but in life, thinking about filters on instagram or snapchat or photoshop or face-tune, the list goes on... Now I intentionally include and often exaggerate these playful details as they give us character and make us who we are.
Are drawing and painting one-in-the-same to you?
Yes. I definitely have a drawing practice within the walls of painting and am the linear as opposed to the painterly. Even when I’m using the paint brush I like to think that I’m just drawing.
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