A detail of Rachel Shim's Act Natural

Scholastic Awards winner Rachel Shim writes about her experience as a resident in the Alliance’s Atelier. She will be participating in Brooklyn Artists Gym’s “Introductions” exhibition. Come out for the opening reception on Saturday, December 17 from 6-9pm!

Creating art in an exposed public space has been both a challenging and refreshing experience. Sandwiched between the small shops and cafés of the lower lobby, the Atelier transforms the privacy of art making into some sort of public spectacle. The glass window changes everything because it asks for the artists in the Atelier to be watched. I enjoy that our presence in the building interrupts the fast-paced work environment, allowing passers-by to slow down and even stop for a moment to watch us work.

At the same time, I am still getting used to the fact that I may have an audience at any given moment, whether I’m painting, cleaning my brushes, or just sitting to think. It is not easy to create work while someone is anticipating your every move, but I think the tension that the glass window presents every day brings forth new questions and concerns into the conversation of art-making and art-viewing. The artist is in most cases absent from our general experience of viewing art. In this particular situation, the artist in the studio is just as dynamic a presence as the artworks and I feel that our presence definitely activates the public space in a positive way.

Exposing our process is an interesting approach to engage an audience. Some of the interactions I’ve had involve people trying to identify what it is I am painting. I enjoy hearing their varied reactions which sometimes turns into a guessing game, but I don’t like to immediately reveal my artistic intentions. My paintings deal with the human figure, but as I work, my images become more abstracted over time. I enjoy playing with the push and pull of ambiguous and familiar forms. As I continue painting, I hope the curiosity lingers and that I keep my viewers guessing.


Rachel Shim received a Gold Key for Sculpture and a Silver Key for Art Portfolio in 2007 while attending Wayne Hills High School in Wayne, New Jersey. Her paintings explore the visual connections that exist between bodies and within architectural and experiential space. Emphasizing the body’s engagement with its surrounding environment, her works play between the private and public shared spaces we exist within, wander through, and contain in our consciousness. Check out more of her work at: http://www.rachelshim.com.

Have a question for Rachel or our other resident artists? Tweet it @artandwriting using #AWatelier.

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