Rachel Craven is an artist, mother and co-founder and creative director of the Echo Park Craft Fair. Her home design and clothing line, Rachel Craven Textiles, is inspired by the women in her life, in particular, her mother, the artist Edith Gwathmey.
Tell us about your newest collection.
The Rachel Craven Holiday 2019 collection is inspired by the artists that literally and figuratively gave me life, raised me up, and cultivated my creative expression. Women like Jackie Windsor, Linda Benglis and my own mother, Edith Gwathmey who painted everywhere, especially by the sea.
When I started making clothes I wanted to make something that both my mother and I would feel confident and beautiful in. She encouraged me to find freedom from traditional norms of femininity through beautiful, non-gendered silhouettes. This collection continues that exploration.
What are your most important artistic tools?
I love light, especially morning sunlight, waking up early and working in my studio is heaven. The tool I probably call-on most is my connection with my ancestors -my mother and my grandmother were painters and we all painted together in the summers at the beach. Those memories, skills, practices are what is most important to me artistically at the moment.
How is your work inspired by or influenced by nature and your surroundings?
I am inspired by living in California and our close proximity to the ocean. The air, the light, the infinite summer all weave their way into my work. I’ve been painting by the ocean with my mother and grandmother since I was a small child, so the sea and the light it affords has always influenced my work.
Did you have any artists or creative people in your family? If so, how did they influence you?
Both of my parents are artists. My grandmother was also a watercolor painter. Both of my parents were art educators as well, so their artistic processes and theories dictated the rhythm of daily life, their work influenced every aspect of the environment I was raised in. They taught be about color and texture from a very early age, we always had a studio in our home, the clothes they wore at home were suited for working in the studio. Linen was the fabric I remember most, my grandmother slept on incredible linen sheets, my father painted on linen, my mother always wore linen. Linen was an obvious choice for me to use in my collections especially now that I’m painting on it– I love the tactile quality, it’s versatility and it has precious history for me.
Do you feel like you’re part of a greater community of artists?
I feel a great sense of community because of my involvement in growing the Echo Park Craft Fair. As the Fair has evolved, our intention has always remained the same – to provide a vibrant gathering place for a circle of artists to commune, share and inspire. The goal of these bi-annual celebrations is nothing less than a shared catharsis, a moment where talented creatives are able to showcase amazing new work, and also to motivate, encourage and care for one another. It’s symbiotic, a beautiful feedback loop: I work to grow and care for the EPCF community, and in turn the EPCF community holds me up and nurtures me immeasurably.