Rachel Muldez with her piece "Event Horizon," made from magnolia seed pods. Photos courtesy of the artist.
Aug. 20, 2018
A Dallas sculptor uses earthy objects, such as leaves, bark and seeds, to evoke a cosmic perspective.
Rachel Muldez gathers natural material for her eco-friendly artwork on daily walks, which she takes following meditation.
“I look closely at the world around me and wonder about other worlds," Muldez says in her artist's statement. "The natural materials I use often already look otherworldly.”
"Pining", found bark, pine sap, 1"x1"x0.5", 2018
The 34-year-old Albuquerque native earned her MFA from the University of Dallas in 2016. She received a masters in humanites from the University of Houston in 2009. She currently shares studio space with Art Garcia at his Davis Foundry Gallery in the Bishop’s Arts District of Dallas.
Muldez says she finds her materials both in urban settings and outdoor venues such as Cedar Ridge Preserve and a few of the surrounding lakes she frequents.
“Since I walk very slow it is easy for me to find abandoned cocoons, dried flowers, seeds, rock or any other natural material that catches my eye,” she explains. “My favorite part about using natural materials is the level of craftsmanship in objects made by other creatures, such as nests, cocoons and galls. I find great inspiration in the intricacy of all-natural materials on both a visual and microscopic level; I do use a microscope to see details that I then replicate in a larger scale.”
"Four Epochs", mulberry bark, variable size, 2017
Muldez also practices meditation, which figures into her work.
“Meditation works for me two-fold,” she explains. “Firstly, 30 seconds or more of even breaths can regulate the oxygen levels in the blood that is pumped to my brain leaving my brain operating at literally one hundred percent. The heightened sense is what gives me the ability to notice much more on my walks than I would if I did not meditate beforehand. Secondly, that calm place that meditation leaves me in is where I work from, imbuing that peace into my work.”
Muldez says she hopes to convey to the audience that the natural materials in her work are always about the connection between humans and the earth.
"Isotope", magnolia flower sepal, chia seeds, 1.5"x2"x1.5", 2016
“Some groupings of my work touch on the cosmos and our place on a life breathing planet in a spiral galaxy,” she said.
Muldez stopped using synthetic materials such as silicone, foam and rubber in her work in 2012 and switched to using all natural materials to be more environmentally friendly.
“Even the adhesive I use is simple chia seeds or tree sap,” she explains. “I process bark, to make my own paper and I collect herbs and dried flowers for my pigments. Small materials like chia seeds are placed one by one using the quill of a cactus.”
Even using only natural items in her artwork, she stresses she never picks materials from living plants.
“I only gather materials that have in fact fallen from the tree,” she explains. “My personal belief is that there was an original creator ‘artist.’ If that be true, then all existing things are art and all fine art created by human ’artists’ are only a rearrangement of that which is already art. Further with that thought, there are plenty of examples of birds creating elaborate nests of floor drawings in front of their nest that are clearly art. So, I believe that everything is art and everything that has been reassembled to make something new is a new type of art.”
"Eta Carinae", found bark, found ash tree seeds, dried avocado seed, found gall nest, 2"x2.5"x4", 2015. It is in the permanent collection of the Museum at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The smallest of her work, ranging from one to two inches tall, sells for $600 each. Larger works start at $1,200 and the largest floor drawing installations run closer to $23,000 with a $900 installation fee. She says the small works all come in a protective case, though a careful freezing treatment assures that all of the art is free of anything that would cause it to be biodegrade.
Her work is currently featured in a group show that began in mid-August called “Everybody Was a Kid” at the Davis Foundry Gallery, which runs through Dec. 31, 2018.
“That is a show comprised of works from talented Dallas artists created before the age of 10 years,” she explains. “My current body of work will be released in 2019 at an undetermined location. Anyone wishing to preview this new body of work must visit my studio as I am keeping it from all social media until the release date.”
Muldez encourages interested art lovers to stop by and see her work anytime. She also has work in a national museum collection in New Mexico, The National Hispanic Cultural Center Museum, the University of West Bohemia in the Czech Republic, Baylor University and the University of Dallas, all have her work either in their permanent collection or on the grounds of their institution.
Rachel Muldez installing "Event Horizon" at the National Hispanic Cultural Center Museum in 2016.