Press Release: "Interweave" @ Ellen Miller Gallery

February 19, 2024


FEB 16- MARCH 23

Ellen Miller Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Rachel Hellmann's solo exhibition: Interweave. This new body of work consists of hand-sewn works on Dura-lar and the shaped paintings that were inspired by them. The work composed of paint, thread, fabric and transparent papers continues to explore perception and light through luminous, layered works that highlight domestic materiality. Interweave will open February 16 - March 23, 2024.


                               “A good listener is told what to do by material and material does not err.”
                                                                                                              - Anni Albers

Hellmann's studio practice has been focused on a rigorous approach to abstract painting, shifting between painted wood wall sculptures to serial paintings on paper, all elegantly layered with planes of color that both distort and clarify the underlying composition. Hellmann's works play with what is "real" and what is "created". We question the depth of her painted reliefs, and how her use of color challenges our perception of space. Hellmann's paintings on paper demonstrate a similar complexity, achieved through an exquisite handling of the illusory quality of paint.

In her newest body of work exhibited in Interweave, Hellmann introduces mylar, fabric, thread into her painting practice. She is now physically layering her materials in order to achieve a more "present" object that examines the complexity of abstract space. Shifting layers of transparent mylar, sewn together with fabric both by hand and machine, articulated with passages of painted geometric forms; these compositions explore a new vocabulary with the Hellmann's singular discipline and vision.

"Starting with pre-existing materials presented a different type of problem solving. I built them in a way that was responsive - a conversation between fold, stitch and swatch of color. Using both a sewing machine and needle and thread, I constructed the pieces from both the front and back surfaces creating something of very shallow relief that hovers between sculpture and drawing. This body of work combines hard edge painting with the tactile and domestic."

Inspired by the works on dura-lar, there are five stunning shaped paintings on wood that elegantly articulate her recent focus on a thinly layered space. Whether Hellmann is using a sewing machine or a table saw, she is interested in the marriage of the hand and the machine as well as the ephemeral and the formal. Making paintings based off of the fabric constructions is an extension of the work where the crispness of painted form contrasts with the soft, ephemeral qualities of fabric and thread. These painted reliefs solidify through paint and wood, the ethereal moments captured in her hand sewn works.

Rachel Hellmann received a BFA from the University of Dayton and an MFA in Painting from Boston University. Her work includes paintings, works on paper and installation. Recent exhibits include "Gestos Mínims: Emotions Máximes” at Casal Son Tugores in Alaró, Spain, “Refractions” at Kirk Gallery in Aalborg Denmark and “Leaning Toward the Sun at the Rockwell Museum in Corning, NY. Rachel has an upcoming solo exhibition at Saenger Galeria in Mexico City in April 2024 and will also be exhibiting her work during the same month at the International Contemporary Art Fair, FIACI, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Rachel was recently awarded residencies at Kimmel Nelson Harding Center for the Arts (Nebraska City, NE) and Fundación Miró Mallorca (Palma, Spain).