This month, I made my way over to Art Access, where in the main room there were 33 artists displaying various works of art for set prices, like courses in a meal. In the second half of the gallery, I found Rebecca Kharel, who was displaying her ceramic sculptures and towers. Today, I chat with Kharel about her art and career, the works she has on display this month at Art Access and her thoughts on the local art scen --.all with pics from that evening, which you can check out in this gallery here.
Gavin: ,Rebecca, First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Rebecca: I live in Murray with my husband, and while I am originally from St. Louis, I’ve been living here in Utah for several years. I love making art and the creative process.
Gavin: What first got you interested in, and what were some early influences on you?
Rebecca: I’ve been doing art since I was a kid. I remember using my allowance to buy as much oven-bake clay as I could get and making little figures and things. The first ceramics class I took I just fell in love with clay and the fantastic textures and forms you can get. I enjoy other materials, as well — painting and sculpture -- but clay gives me the easiest medium to express myself. I’d say my earliest influence, at least one that started me going in my own artistic direction, was Gaudi and Klimt.
Gavin: You received a bachelors degree in studio art from Brigham Young University last year. What made you choose BYU and what was its program like for you?
Rebecca: BYU’s visual-arts program, specifically the 3-D department, has a wonderful community that really supports their students and lets you explore. Seeing the wonderful glazing room in B66 may also have been a factor.
Gavin: During your time there, what drew your interest toward ceramics?
Rebecca: I was one of the few freshmen who knew beforehand exactly I wanted to major in and never changed my mind. I remember way back in high school my junior year my art teacher said, “You’ll be an art major, won’t you?” I had never thought about it before but I said, “Of course!”
Gavin: What influenced your style, and what was it like for you developing it during your time at BYU?
Rebecca: I was/am influenced by the artists around me. For instance, when I first came to college, I was very attached to the wheel, as are a lot of potters. Making pieces functional, as vases etc., was a given. It took a while for me to be drawn out of that mindset and realize a whole world of possibilities beyond the wheel. That is the great thing about clay -- any form is possible.
Gavin: What's the process like for you when creating a new piece, from concept to final form?
Rebecca: Usually, I get some idea, a set of colors or a silhouette, that gets me really excited to make it. That idea can come from anywhere, from the color of my curry or a cool crack in the pavement. Sometimes, I’ll combine the idea with another to make it substantial. Then, I encounter problems like, oh, wait -- how am I going to make this stand up? But I struggle through until I have something to work with. My favorite part is adding the finishing touches to a piece.
Gavin: Do you usually play around with your creations as you mold them them, or do you try to stick to the idea from the start?
Rebecca: I usually just have a rough sketch and then build off things as they get along. I put ideas into the material and the material gives back suggestions, as well.
Gavin: How was it for you breaking into the local art scene after college and taking part in shows?
Rebecca: So far, it has been a surprisingly pleasant experience.
Gavin: Tell us about the artwork on display for this Stroll.
Rebecca: Lots of colors and textures. This exhibition has mainly sculptures, with a few more 2-D pieces. My favorite pieces at the moment are the tall, thin, precarious towers. I want them to convey a little of that feeling in your gut when you stand at the edge of a cliff. The impossibility of their architecture has to do with their concept; read my artist statement. We also added a component to the exhibit where you can handle some small pieces and build your own sculpture out of “houses.”
Gavin: How has it been for you working with Art Access for this showing and doing an exhibition alongside several artists?
Rebecca: Art Access has been fantastic. I think they run a wonderful gallery and are a great voice in the community.
Gavin: Going local, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?
Rebecca: Well, there are many galleries like Art Access that have the right idea, but I wish there were more of a contemporary scene. Or maybe I just want more people to look at art for more than just how well it would look above their couch.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Rebecca: More funding for public art works would be good.
Gavin: Who are some local artists you like checking out or recommend people should look for?
Rebecca: Honestly, just anyone working with ceramic sculpture; for this Gallery Stroll, check out Aaron Ashcraft.
Gavin: What's your take on Gallery Stroll and the work it's doing to promote local art?
Rebecca: Any effort to promote local art is needed and appreciated.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?
Rebecca: I think I will be looking to put on some more exhibitions. I have a bunch of ideas I’d like to work on, not all of them in ceramics. Watch my page.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Rebecca: Art Access!
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