FEATURED ARTIST | JANUARY 2014
Bio: Rachel is a native of Oklahoma City and came to Dallas to study art, art history, and psychology at Southern Methodist University. It was then her dream to open an art gallery connected to an art therapy studio emerged. After graduating from SMU, Rachel moved to Chicago to advance her education and pursue a Master of Arts in Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Rachel returned to Dallas in 2010 and began working as an art therapist at The Art Station, a non-profit art therapy clinic in Fort Worth. During her three years at The Art Station, Rachel counseled adults and children in both group and individual settings, incorporating art making into the therapy to help people process through life's challenges along the way. During her time at the Art Station, Rachel attained her certifications as both a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Registered Art Therapist.
Rachel is now making her dream a reality. She will open Rachel Nash Gallery in Deep Ellum this coming February, and the gallery will have an art therapy studio in the back. The gallery is dedicated to making art accessible to everyone, both artist and collector. Rachel's goal is to provide a space for many artists to exhibit their work as well as to cultivate new collectors and draw attention to the arts in Dallas.
Rachel is also an artist, primarily an oil painter. She is fascinated by color and the beauty of creation in humankind and nature alike. Her paintings reflect this in her abstract and portrait work.
Favorite Dallas hangout: Legal Grounds for their Prom Cakes and Old Monk for their mussels.
Favorite Dallas music venue: The Granada
AHD: Next month years of dreaming and preparation culminate in the opening of your very own art gallery, but the Rachel Nash Gallery will be unlike any other in Dallas' Deep Ellum. What makes your gallery different?
RN: It’s a humbling and exciting experience to be at a place where I am able to pursue my dream. For years I dreamed of a gallery storefront with an art therapy studio in the back. That is definitely the most unique aspect to the gallery! I want to be able to use the gallery and the studio space for events and community gatherings as well.
AHD: Accessibility, both to the up-and-coming artist and the collector, is a goal of yours. Is this focus a response to something you see in the current gallery model or broader art scene that's not quite working?
RN: Yes and No. The idea definitely stemmed out of response to the current gallery model—but not because it’s not working. I think it works great for many artists and collectors. However, I am targeting a different audience. I’m after young artists (young in their careers, not necessarily in age) who want the experience of showing in an art gallery setting but are not yet established in the “gallery scene.” I want to be one of the first galleries people show their art in, the stepping stone to help them further their careers. At the same time, I want to share art with people who do not frequent art galleries, hoping that one day, they feel comfortable enough to go into other galleries and buy more art!
AHD: The art therapy component of Rachel Nash Gallery is unique to say the least. What exactly is art therapy, how did you discover it, and why have you devoted your academic and professional life to making it happen?
It is definitely unique for this part of the country. Art therapy is a combination of art making and mental health counseling. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor as well as a Registered Art Therapist. In the state of Texas, you have to be both in order to practice art therapy.
RN: Art therapy is a great form of counseling. It is a creative process that taps into a different part of the brain where words cannot access. For children, words at times do not come easily, especially when there is a history of trauma. For adults, art therapy is much harder to over-intellectualize and manipulate, therefore it gives new insight to sought-after questions. There is something instinctual and healthy about making something with your hands--the process of creating, despite the outcome, is a huge part of art therapy. Art therapy has many different components, which makes it an interesting profession. It definitely keeps me on my toes! Art therapy can also be fun, making therapy enjoyable and productive at the same time. There is a huge need for it, especially in Dallas!
AHD: How did your time at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the preeminent professional art programs in the country, prepare you for work in this specialized setting?
RN: My graduate school experience was amazing. I studied under some truly great art therapists who have been on the forefront of the field of art therapy. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) not only provided an excellent base of professors, but it provided great field experience. And one of the most beneficial aspects of the program was their focus on the art therapist as “artist.” They encouraged us to explore materials, learn more about art, and pursue our own career as artists.
AHD: After coming from Oklahoma City, studying in Dallas and Chicago, and working across the metroplex in Ft. Worth, how did you settle on Deep Ellum as the place for your first gallery venture? What does your decision say about the creative community here?
RN: Deep Ellum has an amazingly close community, one of which I am just getting to know. Deep Ellum has always been a center for music, art, and culture and it’s also on the upswing right now. There are many people dedicated to making Deep Ellum a vibrant community again--with more art, more restaurants and more businesses in general. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the growing community!
AHD: In addition to being a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Art Therapist, you also find time to paint as well. How have your studies shaped your creative process?
RN: I have been encouraged my entire life to paint, initially by my Mom. I have discovered over time that painting is healing for me. It centers me and gives me an outlet to express myself. It helps me think and has become a “must” do for me to take care of myself. As a therapist, it is important to care for yourself so that you are able to better care for others. If my cup is not full, how can I pour anything out of it?
AHD: You're planning to feature some of your own work at the opening on February 8th. What can you tell us about the paintings you'll have exhibited?
RN: The current exhibit I am working on is titled Color | Gray. The paintings started as a series of complementary colors--going back to basic color theory. As I am in a transitional place in life, I felt like I need to go back to the foundation of what I love about art, which is color. Going back to the beginning has allowed me the space to practice theory instead of just read about it. The grays formed by mixing the complementary colors together + white. So the exhibit is a combination of colors and grays made from colors. It is ultimately a series of new discoveries.
AHD: Collectors, artists and the local creative community are sure to want to check out the new space. Where can they go to learn more about the gallery, its official opening, and about art therapy offerings in the near future?
- The opening party on February 8th is open to all, so that is a good place to start! They can visit the website, www.rachelnashgallery.com, and sign up for the mailing list to hear about future gallery shows and other events.
- My art therapy practice will also be taking root in February. For more information about it, visit www.rachelnasharttherapy.com. I will be seeing individual clients as well as holding group therapy sessions.