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Back Talk with Rachel Znerold

Juxtapoz // Saturday, 26 Sep 2009

Artist, seamstress, performance artist, and activist Rachel Znerold appears to have to her hands on a lot of different things.



She applies multiple layers of mixed media to build wonderfully tactile and colorful visual works. She resembles deconstructed and vintage materials to create hand-sewn fashion pieces. And she is a founding member of fAction SF, a collective of women designers and artists who use fashion and performance art as the medium for creating social change.


We recently caught up with this busy-bee with our Back Talk questions. Check out her answers here.

How do you feel right now?


Great. I had one of those dreams last night where I was painting the same canvas over and over again. This dream usually happens when I am totally immersed in a series of new work, which I am right now.


If you could wake up in a different place tomorrow morning, where would it be and what would you do?


Oooh…probably India. There is this Tibetan Thangka Painting School in Daramsala run by the top female Thangka painter in the world that I’m dying to go to.


If you lost your creative skill, how would you see yourself making a living?


A scientist, because I love microscopes.

If you could punch one living contemporary artist, who would it be?


Geez. I’m all about the love, but if I HAD to, maybe that artist who starved a dog in a gallery in Central America. Although I’m still not sure if that was a hoax…


Was your first kiss worth writing a song about?


It was certainly wetter than the many pillows I had been practicing on, and there were no bells or singing angels or random violin players like I had imagined. It would make for a pretty funny song, actually.


At what point were you particularly happy?


I tend to be an obnoxiously happy person. Especially now. I am so grateful to have awesome art projects that keep me busy every day and really talented artist friends to collaborate with. It’s a good life.


No regrets allowed, but there must have been one?


I wish I could have stuck a solid 360 air on my snowboard while I was still young enough to ignore the risks involved.

What trait do your friends have in common?


Passion. From scatology to prison reform, my friends are all passionately involved in things they genuinely care about.


If you had to evacuate your home or studio, what's the one thing you would grab?


A box of old family photos. My dad is a photographer, and there are some great ones of my parents in the seventies.


Greatest love of your life?


Art, of course. And dancing…any time, any place, with or without music.


What is your favorite vice?


Bacon-Maple Donuts at Dynamo.

When you blow out birthday candles, what do you wish for?


I know it sounds corny, but I often wish that I’ll be able to make art until the day I die.


If you could play a character from a favorite film or TV show for a day, who would it be?


Farrah Fawcett in Charlie’s Angels. That hair is incredible, and she’s a bad-ass.


Do you ever lie?


I’m a terrible liar, so I don’t really try anymore…even those little white lies, like when grandma gives you a puffy-painted and studded denim vest with her perfume all over it for Christmas and you have to put it on and pretend you don’t know that it came straight from her 80’s wardrobe. I love it Gram, really.

Do you think viewers understand the intent of your work?


It’s more important to me that my work invokes some sort of emotional reaction in a viewer than that they totally understand my intentions. I always love to hear someone’s interpretation of my work, because often times they get me thinking about other tangents that I hadn’t even thought of before.


What virtue can you do without?


Chastity. Although, I’m honestly a very good girl.


Do you even notice when you're swearing?


After a few cocktails I stop noticing a lot of things.

What has been your proudest moment?


When I was flown to New Zealand to paint a mural in Mt. Maunganui. Before I left, I quit my bartending job, sold all my existing paintings, and packed up my belongings to move to SF when I returned. It was one of those defining moments, when I decided to commit to being a full-time artist.


What would you like to be remembered for?


Inspiring people to follow their hearts and live more creative lives. And for being a great lover.


How would you prefer to die? 


Bacon-Maple Donuts at Dynamo.


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