5 Things We Learned... Rachael Lawe
RACHAEL LAWE, DESIGNER AND CURATOR AT CLIVE LONSTEIN DESIGN STUDIO
NEW YORK, NY
Rachael Lawe embodies the creative. She’s an art historian and curator, a film producer, writer, tarot card reader and Reiki 1 practitioner. Her skills overlap in so many different ways to produce work that is always imaginative and refreshingly honest. Rachael holds a Bachelor’s & Master’s degree in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, U.K. (2005). After graduation she became Director & Curator of FRED, an art gallery based in London U.K. & Leipzig, Germany. Following a move to New York in 2009, she served as the Founding Director of the International Collage Center, an educational arts nonprofit with a lending and research collection. In 2013, she joined the Decorative Arts and Design team at Tiffany & Co. Between 2016 and 2017, she curated three exhibitions with artist collective Regina Rex and produced several short films with filmmaker Simon Liu which premiered at the Rotterdam and Toronto International Film Festivals. In 2017, she joined Clive Lonstein Design Studio where she serves as designer and curator on high-end residential interiors projects. She is also an active participant in female-focused curatorial group Assembly in New York and continues to independently curate arts programs.
Here are 5 Things We Learned about Rachael.
What made you...you?
Growing up in a place I felt at odds with but with an incredibly loving family. It taught me you can diverge in many ways from the people and context around you but still feel a great deal of compassion, often because of those differences. It taught me to give people a moment to share their experiences and to withhold assumptions.
Then there was horse-riding in childhood - at age 4 I wouldn’t stop pestering my parents to give me the opportunity to learn. They finally relented. In those first experiences I realized I could define my own path. As a tiny thing I was transformed when I was riding; I had the power to be three times as tall and jump these huge heights. It gave me a deep belief in the power of magic and transformation; that we are not subject to what feels actual or the reality we are in. Oh and of course the old adage.........if you fall off a horse the only thing to do is get right back on, that’s been most helpful in life!
And finally my deep, intuitive love of art, and the symbols we use to express our experience. My early love of this has defined my adult life. That passion people have to express and communicate through various forms such as literature, mark-making, film, music, dance the list continues ad infinitum, understanding this early about a primal force in people is a constant touch stone of hope.
When are you happiest?
When I’m surrounded by people, gathered around a table talking for hours. I especially gravitate towards people who are creative. I’m happiest seeking out alternative perspectives on life and hearing the inner journeys of others. I think people are endlessly fascinating.
To balance this intense love of being surrounded by people my other happiest moments are when I’m plunged into the darkness of a cinema watching a film unfold. Cinema is this magical portal or liminal space where we are both here and not – a moment of fantasy and imagination.
And of course enjoying a good solo walk. Through nature would be the best. However, mostly my walks are through the urban space of New York for hours and hours and getting to the weird industrial estates, now that’s where the real magic happens!
Would you rather have a muse or be a muse?
I find the concept of a muse problematic in its more contemporary meaning. I see it as representing this passive version of the female in relation to the male. I think it has also been utilized as a mode of silencing women by acknowledging them as having something to do with creative production but making sure they were not viewed as the producers or having agency in this sphere. There are countless examples especially through my discipline of art history of women being accepted as the muse but their own art, concepts or creations being obfuscated or unrecorded. Thankfully, there is a surge in research and revisionist work being done in our time to recognize this, and uncover new pantheons of intentionally forgotten figures not solely due to their gender, but also race, sexual preferences and political views to name a few.
Who do you admire?
This list is pretty endless. Recently though I would say the activists (in our friends and public figures) who are relentless in their pursuit of a fairer more caring world in the face of great opposition at this current moment. The people who don’t rest in this. People who have the ability to communicate their voice and build community. It is no small feat in this increasing solipsistic time.
I also admire those in my life who pursue their vision. This seems a simple thing to do but it takes real bravery to believe in your own voice and intuition, the system is set pretty hard against people doing this.
What is important?
I think it’s important to focus on the moment, to try and improve in each moment. Not to dwell on past successes or failures or be too focused on future desires. This focus on the moment can allow a deep looking, which can enlighten both the past and future.
To build networks, communities and friends around you to seek support and advice. I think having lived my entire adult life in two cities as intense as London and New York, having people I rely deeply on is incredibly important to me being able to be able to exist in these spaces.
Art and creativity - I think they’re often incorrectly perceived as a luxury and perhaps not totally pertinent, especially in tough political or economic moments – I think however it is a complete necessity to us evolving.
Images from left to right: Rachael Lawe; Henri Matisse, (1869–1954), Seated Odalisque, 1926, Oil on Canvas; May Wilson, 1905 -1986, Untitled, Ridiculous Portrait, 1966-1969, collage; Hedy Lamar, (1913-2000) Ecstasy , director Gustav Machatý, 1933; Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – c. 1656), Lucretia, c.1630-1635, oil on canvas; Venus of Willendorf, BCE 30,000, terracotta