Born and raised in New York City, Rachel Schultz grew up surrounded by art and constantly creating it. Now as an artist and the Creative Director for Shop Idun, Rachel uses the city’s contradictions, restless energy, and diversity as a launch pad for her creativity.
The result is work that is both beautiful and philosophical, as seen in her latest print: a limited edition print of her Gestures series. We’re excited to be working with Rachel as our latest artist for our Local Art in Action program, and to have this gorgeous print live at Common Dean in Prospect Heights.
Read our interview with Rachel below to learn more about her work and her life in New York City.
Interview with Rachel Schultz
First things first, introduce yourself!
First things first, introduce yourself!
Hi, my name is Rachel Schultz. I am an artist, mother, wife, among other things. If you know me you know it’s hard for me to label myself something so black and white, but artist, mother, and wife are three simple statements I know are absolutely true 😉
I was born in Manhattan, my mother worked for a painting backdrop studio, Oliphant Studio (which is still around, relocated to Brooklyn now!), where she would bring all four kids and we would climb on the large backdrops like a jungle gym. I guess this is where I first interacted with painting and art. It’s funny because creating art has always been within me, even as a small girl I would take old glass bottles cut out clippings from magazines and collage them. I would always be in my own mind creating stories or thinking up dream worlds. I didn’t realize I was creating art all along until later when it all came together after taking an oil painting course; I realized this is what I love to do.
“I didn’t realize I was creating art all along until later when it all came together after taking an oil painting course; I realized this is what I love to do.”
Tell us more about the print featured at Common Dean! You’ve made iterations of these gestures in the past. What inspires them?
My gestural work came after an artist residency in Kanazawa, Japan two years ago.
During the residency we stayed at a Ryonkan with a traditional Onsen. This imagery of bathing arose but then morphed into something so much more. Each gesture that I drew came very naturally and the following gesture was always affected by the previous form I had made. I realized through doing this there was something hidden and symbolic. This act of creating forms where one movement effected the next and so on and so forth represented something true about human nature.
The first is the inner gesture and its relation to self. How the act of one movement affects the act of our next movement. If self-contempt or negative sentiments are present our next gesture will not naturally be optimistic or confident. Most likely, something cynical or sullen follows. The next is a reflection of our gestures effecting others. Our movements, moods, joys, dullness drift outwardly and this affects those around us and eventually, others around them. To understand where we are in life, why we feel the way we do- it may help to look at our gestures and the gestures of those we stand next to.
How has living in New York City affected your creative process or your work?
New York City is a place that doesn’t let you sit too comfortably which is partly why it is filled with so much creativity. I think too much (metaphysical) comfort can sometimes suffocate creativity. I love New York City because it is a place of multiplicity and dichotomies. So many different people and perspectives, not necessarily agreeing with one another but still walking next to each other. Conflicting or opposing ideas is something I find in my work a lot, even when I’m not necessarily trying to make that part of it.
What’s your favorite piece of art inside your own home? What’s the story behind it?
A tiny self-portrait that my “uncle” (who I found out later in life was actually my real grandfather) painted. He looks like Ernest Hemingway and the colors remind me of Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, if colors can remind you of a novel? I actually never met him, and I don’t love the painting because of family ties it really is just a beautiful painting, you can see he examined himself humbly and intuitively laying down the paint, which is always when the best work is made.
Do you have any tips for someone moving to New York City?
Take time every single day to look around at the buildings, people, markets, cafes, noise, colors and remember how amazing humanity is and what a privilege it is to live in such a city expressing its endurance and creativity.
What does your dream day off in NYC look like?
Walking around with a good cup of coffee with my husband, baby and dog, early in the morning when the city is still sleeping. Exploring a neighborhood we haven’t been to in a while. Walking through The Met, Guggenheim, or gallery hopping in Chelsea. An early aperitif where we can people watch, or a “healthy” cocktail at reception bar in the lower east side. Maybe cozy dinner with friends at home or checking out a new restaurant.
What’s your favorite place?
My favorite place is my family’s hytta on the Lindesnes fjord in southern Norway. I have been going there almost every summer for two weeks since I was a little girl. It is peaceful, idyllic, and feels like home.
Discover more of Common Dean
Rachel’s print is featured at Commmon Dean, our latest coliving home in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. This renovated townhouse features all the benefits of a Common coliving home, like fully furnished spaces and household essentials, along with two gorgeous rooftop spaces and a backyard.