Rachel MacFarlane



Rachel MacFarlane is an artist who works primarily in painting, collage, and digital animation. Her work responds to current issues of simulation. 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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Artist Statement 

My studio is like a laboratory. I experiment by building maquettes from found refuse. The edge of a cardboard cup may become a barricade. A chrome mylar base becomes a reflective swamp. Broken matchsticks transform into an architectural monument. I then arrange and light these small-scale dioramas. The models function as still-lifes.

I transcribe the models into large scale oil paintings depicting abstract space-scapes or uncanny objects. The paintings are both mimetic and abstract. They become associative expeditions for the viewer to explore. The work explores the illusory and material, transcendental and temporal, and propositional and definitive.

I am most interested in the failure of painting. Painting can create trompe l’oeil effects yet does not convince us because of its materiality. Its failure is its ability to be both window and object. This duality makes painting an effective medium to critique simulation media. I am interested in the politics of mimesis present in media such as virtual reality, video games and film.

My goal is to create illusion, draw the viewer in, but emphasize the physical attributes of the painting as an object in space. I use these strategies to negate illusion while presenting it. I hope to create a dialogue between object, representation and viewership.


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