Connecticut College Magazine · Spring 2004


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Finding Beauty in the Mundane

Finding Beauty in the Mundane
Rachel Perry Welty

Rachel Perry Welty ´84 creates art from items other people often put in the garbage: cash register receipts, twist ties and produce stickers.

"I have taken something insignificant and throwaway and turned it into something (I hope) that demands to be looked at just for what it is," says the artist. Her wall-sized "cross-section" uses interlocked looped twist ties to create a vaguely cellular installation that suggests a web or a crocheted afghan-gone-wild. "It is about the significance of the overlooked," she says.

In "Altered Receipts: Children´s Hospital Bill for Inpatient Services," Welty transforms a 37-page receipt from a hospital bill with a code of candy-colored blobs of gouache, blotting out the pain of a child´s hospitalization.

Even "digital debris" becomes a medium in Welty´s "Karaoke Wrong Number." After saving wrong-number messages from her answering machine for three years - "I wasn´t sure what I was going to do with them" - Welty videotaped herself lip-synching to them. Though the work is humorous, "the poignancy and banality of the messages reveal issues of privacy, identity and assumptions," says the artist.

An English major at CC, Welty began to study art seriously in her late 30s, after her mother - a sculptor - received her art degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (SMFA). "I went to my mother´s review board, where she presented her work to faculty, and I just knew." Welty grabbed a catalog, picked out her courses while sitting in her car and was enrolled within two months. She received her diploma and fifth-year certificate from SMFA, winning a prestigious Traveling Scholarship in 2001.

A self-professed "late bloomer," Welty considers herself very lucky to have found her passion. She was recently awarded another Traveling Scholarship from SMFA, and the artist plans to return to Japan, where she was born and spent part of her childhood. (Welty´s father is John Curtis Perry, a former professor of East Asian studies at CC) "A sharpness of contrast gives an abrasive edge to the beauty of Japan, and this contrast reflects a tension in my work," she says.

Her work has been shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Barbara Krakow Gallery in Boston; Prenelle Gallery in London and Florence Lynch Gallery in New York City. Welty will have a one-person exhibition at Barbara Krakow Gallery in September 2004.

Though she only took one art course at CC (with Maureen McCabe during her senior year), Welty believes that her liberal arts education was a perfect background for her current work. "All the courses I took and the books I read … it´s all grist for the mill."

Mary Howard

Connecticut College Magazine

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