Optical Illuminations

Rachel Hellerich’s work has a way of drawing you in…. then letting you go: This place is yours to explore.  Embellished, obsessively woven patterns adorning walls and floors are painted, creating a collage-like appearance.  Lines change direction, perspectives shift, vast depths and colors undulate.  The viewer is seduced by a world that is both intimidating yet welcoming, beckoned to quietly trespass into a strange wilderness of textile-like forms and surreal landscapes.

The viewer journeys through these phantasmal territories, referencing an undercurrent where historical events have played a role.  In Hellerich’s past work, patterns, shapes, and colors were created strictly in the formalist manner.  These patterns and structures themselves still retain that imaginary, yet their roots have more significance.  Hellerich’s work is influenced by several factors including: Asian art, op art, science fiction and military history.  Many works in the show are inspired in particular by structures from the World War II.  These reconstructions, often historically based, introduce positive narratives through pattern-making and retain an optical and zen quality.

Seton Gallery is pleased to be the first to exhibit Hellerich’s latest work, a suite of black and white paintings inspired by early science fiction films.  Through color and atmosphere, the works explore a surrealist quality and sublime nature.  Fascinating as these films are from the 1920s-50s, such narratives serve as pivotal benchmarks in history.  Therein lies a plethora of stories that the artist feels compelled to represent; there is no end date for this project.

Though Hellerich’s background is rooted heavily in sculpture and installation, the last decade has marked a new phase of creative growth focused on painting and drawing.  Due to this previous three-dimensional practice, these pieces are very much created with a three-dimensional mindset.  Her work encompasses a range of paint.  At times the brush isn’t used at all, rather a palette knife is her preferred tool to carve landscapes and dramatize skies.  Hellerich’s discovering additional methods as she progresses to enhance and `sculpt’ her work. Furthermore, the work tends to possess a fluid nature due to their metallic elements; dramatic changes occur when viewed in natural daylight and in the evening under artificial lighting. Hellerich lives in Milford and has a studio in West Haven.  A Connecticut native, she attended Southern Connecticut State University earning her undergraduate degree in Studio Art and later went onto receive a Post-Baccalaureate certificate in the Fiber and Materials Studies program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL.  Rachel Hellerich is represented by Fred Giampietro Gallery in New Haven, CT.