Rachel MacFarlane is an artist who works primarily in painting. She has an MFA from Rutgers University, a BFA, from OCAD University, and a Certificate of Advanced Visual Studies from OCAD Florence program. Solo exhibitions have been presented at Mason Gross Gallery, NJ, Nicholas Metivier Gallery,Toronto, the Howard Park Institute, Toronto, and Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax. She participated in group exhibitions in NYC, San Francisco, Florence, Quebec City, Halifax, Toronto, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. She has been awarded the Doris McCarthy Artist in Residence, the Robert Pope Artist Residency at NSCAD, Participant at Triangle Artists Workshop, NYC, and Visiting Artist at Cow House Studios, Ireland. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Drawing and Painting medal from OCAD University, the Rutgers Mason Gross Dean’s Choice Award, Ontario Arts Council Grant, and Sam Abramovitch Fellowship to Attend Triangle Artists Workshop. Her work is included in the collections of the Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, The Donovan Collection at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto & numerous private collections. She is represented by Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto and Jarvis Hall Gallery in Calgary.
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My most recent body of work is called Memory Gardens. It’s a series of paintings that depict personal memories of landscapes. The works lament the landscape, and manufacture new places through the process of painting. The foundation for each painting is a memory, allowing each to tell a unique narrative.
For over a decade, I have been building maquettes as a way to enter the process of painting. Lately, my models are made from paper in shallow boxes no bigger than a postcard. The constructions depict gardens, mountains, waterways, rock formations and other sites of landscape. I then lights these makeshift miniature spaces and uses them as the observational foundation for the paintings. The maquettes allow me to capture temporal light, physical form, and to create coloured atmospheres. I act like a studio-based plein air painter among these miniature paper gardens. Through this process I fabricate a new place, building it from the residue of memory, and the humble material of paper.
I try to create lush space for visual exploration. I look most to painters like Morandi, Cezanne, and Velasquez, who negotiate the poetics of depth, illusion, object, and common experience. I grew up looking at the landscape as a place for invention and storytelling. Somewhere between these influences, experiences, and critique of nature, I find my position–creating place through methods of still life.