Rachel Blythe Udell is inspired by the ways that yarn, fabric, clothing, and other materials can be used to inform texture, shape, and fluidity, and to evoke emotions that are sometimes difficult to put into words. She began working with fibers and textiles several years after her mother passed away in 2001, her death occurring shortly before the attacks of September 11th. Tom Moran, Chief Curator and Artistic Director at Grounds for Sculpture, writes: “Longing for a way to stay connected with her mother and to express and work through such a tumultuous period, Udell decided to think of her as a sort of collaborator.” Thus, she began using her mother’s clothing as material.
Today, the artist gathers her materials from various sources. She is drawn to fabrics and yarn that already have a history, whether connected to her or not. Udell’s use of crochet, embroidery, and other stitch-work is both meditative and palliative. “Stitches became the basis upon which cellular/organic structures were built,” she has written. “Palpable, textured materials enabled me to create forms that feel alive.” In her installations, Udell’s pieces are biomorphic bodies in dialogue with one another. As such, they become metaphors for the ways in which human beings connect to one another and our environment.
Last spring, Udell exhibited her work in a solo show at Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey. In 2012, she was chosen to exhibit her work in Outside/Inside the Box as part of the international biennial, Fiber Philadelphia. In addition, she was invited by the Philadelphia Dept. of Parks and Recreation to create a fiber art installation at Lemon Hill Mansion in Fairmount Park. Her work has also been shown at numerous venues in Philadelphia such as The Painted Bride Art Center, Nichols Berg Gallery, and International House as well as the Bronx Art Space and et al Projects in New York City. Udell graduated from the University of Pennsylvania summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Art History. She lives and works in Collingswood, NJ.
Full disclosure: She also writes this blog, updates the website, answers your emails, and curates your Eye’s Vintage etsy experience.
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