Photos by Jason Wyman
My creative practice has two primary manifestations: two-dimensional works, including drawing, printmaking, painting, and collage (the personal and spiritual); and participatory, community-engaged installation and performance (the public and pluralistic).
My drawings, paintings, and prints express and process my love of, and fear for, the natural world. Witnessing the degradation of the environment evokes both an existential sadness and a reminder to deeply see the beauty that is around me and accept that it is constantly changing. The imagery in my work references the essential qualities and forms of rocks, trees, clouds, and other elements of the natural world. The interplay between light and shadow is also a primary component of my work, reflecting the idea that in nature, things die so that others can live, or, put another way, the light cannot exist without the dark.
My current focus on rocks as inspiration for my paintings began during my residency in Iceland last summer. I was initially attracted to their forms and lines, which introduced me to new modes of mark-making and composition; but there is also a personal and emotional element at play. Making landscape art is my response to the deep ecological grief I feel, which I cope with by reflecting on impermanence. Rocks seem so immutable, but they are formed by some of the most dynamic and elemental processes on our planet. The timescale of their evolution invites contemplation of what they have witnessed and what they will experience as our planet continues to change. Many of the rock formations featured in my paintings were formed millions, if not billions, of years before humans, and will most certainly outlive us. They invite me to step back and see the immense continuum that we are only a small part of.
My installation and performance work has largely focused on collaborative, pluralistic projects aimed at sharing the stories of communities that aren’t often heard—LGBT elders, youth from low-income communities, people with disabilities. Although the artistic form has evolved over time, certain aesthetic values remain the same: layering and juxtaposition of various elements—gesture, image, sound, text— to evoke new meanings and uncover universal truths: that we all want to belong, and we all struggle to find that place of belonging. I create these pieces through multi-modal workshops designed to encourage artists and non-artists alike to translate their experiences into visual and performative language.
Rebecca Schultz is a multi-disciplinary artist and arts facilitator/educator. She grew up in PIttsburgh, PA and lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 20 years before recently relocating to Elkins Park. Her creative practice includes painting, drawing, printmaking, and collage; participatory installation and public art projects; and performance art.
Rebecca’s path has been circuitous. She studied painting at Rhode Island School of Design, but by the end of her undergraduate studies was making mixed media installation pieces examining gender socialization and media messages about women. She moved to San Francisco in 1994 and presented performance art and video works at local venues, including Artists Television Access, the Bearded Lady Cafe, and the Diesel Cathedral. This practice led to the development of an evening-length solo piece, facilitating community-based theater projects, and using devised ensemble performance as a tool for examining intersectional identity and inspiring social change, including her work with OutLook Theater Project, a queer ensemble theater company she co-founded in 2007.
In 2014, Rebecca returned her focus to visual art, a shift that paralleled her increasing awareness of environmental issues, particularly humanity’s impact on the ecosystem. Rebecca’s two-dimensional works meld imagery drawn from the natural world and her emotional responses, channeled through reflective practice. At the same time, she translated her working methods for community-based performance to participatory installation, creating the piece Belonging in Transition, which was developed through multi-modal workshops with transition-aged youth in San Francisco, and The Multi-Families Project, a mixed media installation created in collaboration with eight multi-racial families in the East Bay region of the Bay Area and featuring family portraits by photographer Elizabeth Strong.
Since moving to the Philadelphia area in August 2016, Rebecca has shown her work at the 3rd Street Gallery, Crane Arts, Philadelphia Open Studios, the Philadelphia Sketch Club, and the Cheltenham Center for the Arts and created a mural in collaboration with young people at the James L. Wright Recreation Center in West Philadelphia as part of Mural Arts’ A2O program. She is currently teaching for the Delphi Art Club and Art Futures programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and facilitating a community-based project for Mural Arts’ Porch Light program. Rebecca is a member of InLiquid, the MamaCITA Collective, and the Cheltenham Center for the Arts.