“Blind Contour Drawings by Rachel Desrochers” at BankRI

The BankRI Galleries present:
BankRI Turks Head Gallery: “Blind Contour Drawings by Rachel Desrochers,” September 7 through October 4, 2017 at the BankRI Turks Head branch in downtown Providence at One Turks Head Place.  There will be a Gallery Night reception on September 21 from 5 to 8:30 pm with live music by guitarist Mark Armstrong and light refreshments.  Exhibit hours are Monday through Wednesday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursday and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information, call 401 574-1330.
East Providence artist Rachel Desrochers is fearless in her pursuit of art. The 24-year-old aspiring artist straps on roller blades to skate on large swatches of rubber roofing material, dispersing paint with every swish of her skates. She dips hockey pucks into paint and throws them on board.  She’s carved ice cubes, trying (and failing) to make prints from them.  She constantly takes photographs of her life surroundings using them as the basis for her blind contour drawings.
Originally from Marshfield, Massachusetts, she attended New Hampshire Institute of Art, a small up and coming college in Manchester, New Hampshire.  Her professors encouraged her to do things outside of her comfort zone, and gave her the strong foundation she needed to try anything.   Desrochers jumped in, taking as many different classes as she could ­– printmaking, ceramics, landscape, figure drawing, painting and jewelry, just to name a few.  “I wanted to explore what you could do with art,” she explains.
After graduation she and her boyfriend Jeff moved to Rhode Island when she was offered a job teaching art at Sweet Pea Village, an early childhood education and daycare center in East Greenwich.  She teaches 8 classes a week to 3-5 year-olds and helps the other teachers out whenever she has some downtime.  It’s often difficult to find the time to make her own art, but Desrochers does, working late into the night and on the weekends.
The blind contour drawings shown at the bank grew from a working process Desrochers developed using her own photographs.  “I take pictures everywhere I go,” Desrochers says, “and they tell a story, my story.”  She combines the photographs in Photoshop, playing with the opacity to allow the images to morph together to create one single statement.  She uses this collaged photograph as the basis for her drawing.
The term blind contour drawing refers to an exercise where an artist draws the outline of an object in a continuous line without taking the pencil off the paper and without looking at the paper.  It encourages concentration and allows the artist to focus on what an object truly looks like and not what he or she thinks it looks like.
When the contour drawing is done, Desrochers goes back in, this time looking at the paper while adding color and texture using oil pastels, sharpies, oils, watercolors and/or gouache.
The resulting drawings have a fresh, spontaneous feel, bright in color with unexpected imagery that’s both sophisticated and naïve.  Each piece has an entirely different feel and look.
Although the contour drawings are perhaps the safest of Desrochers creative endeavors, they are also her most personal, drawing on her life and fearless approach to making art.
 The BankRI Galleries are curated by Paula Martiesian, a Providence-based artist and arts advocate.