Tonight's Final Friday art gallery crawl marks a debut for Lawrence artist Rachel Scribner, not only of her first exhibition in Wichita but also her first exhibition ever.
Scribner's show, titled "Somewhat Surreal: A Year in Paint," will take place at Dock 410 on Commerce Street, for one night only. The exhibition will consist of 14 of Scribner's oils, gouaches and watercolors.
Scribner, originally from Valley Center, describes growing up two blocks from her grandmother's house and spending much of her childhood there.
"I have come to realize now, the countless days and nights I spent at my grandmother's have had a great impact on the young woman and artist I am today," she said. "By spending so much time with her, hearing the stories, learning the heirloom skills, and gaining an appreciation for the past has been a major force in my work.
"Once, when I was 12, my grandma pulled out a century-old braid of hair from an old shoebox in her closet. It was my great-great-aunt's, and it was perfectly preserved, as if had been cut from my own head. In that moment, I became obsessed with the tie that every person has to the past."
That history inspires her to create works tied to the past as well as those exploring current life experiences, she said.
Although slightly edgy and quirky, her paintings are evocative of early 20th century illustrators.
"John R. Neill's illustrations for the 'Oz' books, Arthur Rackham and John Tenniel, who illustrated for Lewis Carroll, all inspire me in terms of handling the figure and approaching composition and space," Scriber said. "I've carried a copy of 'Ozma of Oz' with me through studios for three years because I feel so connected to Neill's drawings."
Her painting titled "What Remains" shows two girls from another era. The atmosphere of the room in which they are sitting is dark and a little eerie, reminiscent of the colors and strokes of Arthur Rackham. One has the feeling of looking into a scene from a Grimm's fairy tale. There is something familiar and relatable in her works, something we connect with childhood.
Yet to Scribner, they are personal and autobiographical.
"The show is meant to be a way of me showing my experiences and observations about life through paint," she said. "All of the work from the show was made in the last year and has many ties to life changes, separation, relationship shifting, and claiming independence by moving out on my own for the first time and discovering my identity through it all."
The past year has been significant for Scribner. Not only did she graduate from Kansas State University with a bachelor's degree in painting, but she also moved to Lawrence, settled into a new painting style and is now having her first exhibition.
"In the end, my ultimate goal as an artist is to express an emotion or experience from my life that I hope the audience can then form a connection to their own lives," she said.