2022 Bio and Artist's Statement
In my work, concept and craft are coequals. The very physical and technically demanding process of forging and forming shapes in glowing steel is my passion. Using these processes, I address broader issues of “body” and “landscape” through the lens of social and environmental justice. I express these ideas by making sculpture, furniture, and architectural elements. The forms I create are physical representations of restrictive and oppressive social systems and the battle against them. In my work, symbolic references to systemic expectations and oppressive uses of the human body and landscape dominate the linear and framing elements while the queer, powerful, and subversive parts of life, body, and politics are referenced by the masses that push out of that framework.
My work is an expression of my lived experience as a woman in the traditionally male dominated field of metalwork. I am challenging one of the last bastions of socially sanctioned sexism based on perceived gender related physical ability. Perceptions of clients and industry associates based on my gender have certainly created a disadvantage that this award would help to mitigate, but more importantly it would be a personal affirmation to me of my belief that skill and craftsmanship are superior to brute force and that the work I make is impactful, interesting and valuable. I thrive on learning new techniques and finessing my skills of execution with each project. Turning the dream of a form, reveling in process into the hard metal is a source of pride and identity that I strive to reflect in my work.
Rachel David is a blacksmith, sculptor, and designer. Her metalwork practice encompasses art, furniture, architectural elements, activism, and gardening. Through community activism and metalwork that references relationships between bodies and landscapes, David investigates issues related to colonization, social, and environmental justice. Rachel is the recipient of the James Renwick Alliance 2021 Chrysalis award for emerging artists. She taught at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (ME), Peters Valley School of Craft (NJ), Appalachian Center for Craft (TN), the New Agrarian School (MT), and Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (IL). Rachel organized and curated Nu Iron Age in (2017) and Meta-Formation (2019- 2020). She has exhibited work nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions. Her work has been included in several publications, including Ironwork Today 4 and is included in the collections of the City of New Orleans, the Simone Benetton Foundation, and in numerous private collections.