By: Audrey Levinson
This story begins with a chance meeting. I was on my way to run an errand and passing by Eye Studio in the village of East Syracuse. Though I had not intended to stop there I decided it would be a good idea before I headed to my next stint. When I entered, the owner/artist/teacher, herself was meeting with an artist by the name of Rachael Ikins. Rachael’s work adorned the walls of the studio there, and they were discussing the opening for her show. So, I had a little time to meander around and wandered into the studio to check out Rachael’s artwork. The first thing that called to my attention was that some of her paintings were created using tissue paper. When I looked even closer at her work, she had painted over the tissue to bring colors more together, but it’s such an elegant, unique look. There was a variety of different artworks by Rachael as well as books that have been published.
When Ilene and Rachael were finished with their business, Ilene introduced us. Through the small chit chat and cordial friendly conversation we found that we had a few things in common. We both have a great admiration and love for cats. I thought well of her and decided to find out what makes her an interesting artist.
Rachael has a home studio as many artists do. She invited me to her house to see more of her work and to talk about her creative life. Going to any artists home is always fun. Usually, I am blessed with the collections of meaningful things to look at and Rachael did not disappoint. They are personal to the artist and for that I give credit. Rachael is also a published writer and award winning poet and as we got deeper into conversation, she told me she really sees herself in the capacity as a writer more than as a visual artist. She told me a story that recently happened to her. Some of her packed away belongings ended up in her mother’s basement.
A friend of hers who was helping her sold an old filing cabinet that was amongst her things and so he packed up the items from inside the cabinet in plastic bags ready to go to the dump. He called Rachael to let her know of his sale and what was going to happen to the items in the filing cabinet. She made sure nothing went to the dump and retrieved her bags. Rachael unpacked her things only to discover valuables from her past like old valentines from her husband, some of her first photographs and manuscripts of her children’s stories that she thought were lost forever. She was elated. She brought the five children’s stories to a publisher and 3 of them have been accepted for publication. However, they wanted her to illustration them in pen and ink. Not a bad deal. I got the impression it’s been a long road, but Rachael seems to know how to put her work out there. She’s an inspiration to those who are still grasping for time and places for their work to be appreciated. She writes everyday she told me writing had saved her life a few times. She has a very strong confidence that shines through her. I got the impression that she usually has something going on. She’s won eleven prizes through the Pen Women for poetry. She is now a member of the National League of American Pen Women. She started a Monday night open poetry at Sushi, Blues, and Barbecues in Hamilton NY. Rachael belongs to Associated Artists of Central NY. She has also taken art classes with local artists, including Ilene Layow of Eye Studio.
Rachael went on a trip to Ireland to write in an old Irish castle. I can imagine the ambiance there and how it must touch the creative nerves and imagination. She wrote and was critiqued by Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley In that castle in Ireland. She has books published such as, For Kate (Clare Songbirds Publishing) poems about her favorite feline companion. She has a novel called Totems (Log Cabin Books) and God Considered The Horizon (Finishing Line Press), a chapbook of poetry that has a related theme. There are more published poetry books and collaborative works that Rachael has written, too many to mention here. Rachael’s artwork is notable and very connected to her writing.
Her artwork and writing share her insights, thoughts, and relate to one another. Her works whether it is her art or written word is surely worth looking for. My gut feeling was right she is an interesting artist.
Read more about Rachael at: http://www.thevoicesproject.org/poetry-library/a-fairytale-by-rachel-ikins