An exerpt from “A Mystic Universe”
by Catherine Coggin
in Focus Santa Fe
Rachel Darnell was born in Quito, Ecuador and a lot of that country’s magic and color imbue her art. “It’s a more expressive culture and part of the Inca mysticism. It made me part of a different culture and open to it.”
In fact religion and art have always intertwined in Darnell’s life. Her major at Emory University in Atlanta was Judaic Studies that took her to Israel, Egypt and Greece. She studied for a year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and all the while her artistic eye travelled with her.
“There is a lot of art in my family. My grandfather did pen and ink drawings. My father is a water colorist. Both my parents loved art. Even with no money, they bought art”
After getting her BA at Emory, Rachel went to the Memphis College of Art to concentrate on weaving. Which didn’t quite allow her the kind of expression she hoped. “I couldn’t get my ideas onto the loom. It was computerized and the computer would just stop.” Nevertheless, weaving proved another step in her spiritual development. ” Woven cloth expresses that we are all interdependent and interconnected,” she explains. “In the Inca tradition, woven cloth was more valuable than gold because it took so long to make.”
Though loom-weaving didn’t quite make the cut, Darnell brought that sensibility to the remarkable pieces she now creates with woven strips of canvas gessoed and then painted.
She paints with oils only and precious metals such as gold and silver leaf and palladium. Her work truly evokes the great mystic painters Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler.
“I do these because I have to,” she explains. “All these ideas come to me from everywhere out of the philosophy of nature that in chaos there is organization, pattern. I believe that and I hope my work touches people.”