STORY: ANDREW RITCHIE | PHOTO: ANTROPOLOGIE | PORTRAIT: ZACK SMITH
Most days of the year you will find artist Rebecca Rebouche alone at her woodland studio in Covington, Louisiana, surrounded only by trees. Despite the self-imposed seclusion, the New Orleans native has become one of the most talked-about young American artists working today. Collaborations with international retailer Anthropologie have secured a wide audience, while her fierce devotion to the creative process itself keeps her ever rooted to her surroundings and the visceral magic it inspires in her work.
Rebouche has always been drawn to visual expressions and she often sketched in class, at church or alone in her room as a child. The lifelong pursuit of artistry led her to Louisiana Tech University where she learned to paint. As with most artists, her most valuable lessons have come from life experience. Her work is guided by a persistent interest in what she calls the thread of life: that weaving, binding stitch that connects us all through shared human experience. Often using surreal depictions of nature to express our journeys through emotions, relationships and time, Rebouche connects seemingly unrelated moments and objects to explain the unseen.
Very often in her work, trees are used to depict this connection, the dark branches grappling with wayward objects as diverse as nightgowns, puffins, clocks and rabbits, a stray leaf emblazoned with a single, impactful word. The fragmented elements of a lifeís journey, when blown into the cradle of her painted branches, attain a semblance of meaning through metaphor. The resulting visual impact in her work is always magical and meaningful.
Her paintings evolve through a process of collection and inspiration. Tear-sheets, pieces of cloth, lists of words from her journal that have been circled, and circled again, are gathered onto a wall collage where the thrust of the paintingís energy and theme slowly begin to emerge.
The artist took some time to chat with us about her artistic process and the guiding principles of her work.
Since this is our winter issue, we wanted to know what winter in Louisiana feels like to you.
Winter in Louisiana is surprisingly cold. I say that because you might think itís too Southern to be very cold, but Louisiana is always wet, so winter is cold and damp. Winter in the woods, though, keeps you close to the seasons. Despite my warm-blooded nature, I like to build fires in the woods, make gumbo, and drink lots of coffee and tea throughout the winter. If I can get my studio cozy enough, winter can be great for staying put with audiobooks as my only friends while I work. And there is a certain beauty to leafless trees that I particularly enjoy.
Your studio is located, literally, in the trees. Tell us about this place.
My tree house studio was designed and built by an artist in the mid 1970ís. It is surrounded by woods and has a towering wall of windows facing north. It is nestled on a swath of land that has been in the late artistís family for generations. A short walk through the woods brings me to his relativesí house, where I share coffee and stories with them, pet the dog, and visit their horses and lily pond. Itís quite a lovely country compound. I feel very lucky to be a part of it, and to be carrying on the practice of being an artist in this house… a house built for an artist.
You consciously surround yourself with trees. Is there something about trees that you find especially intriguing?
Where to find Rebecca Rebouche:
Website and Blog: rebeccarebouche.com
Etsy Shop: etsy.com/rebeccarebouche
The Beauty Shop showroom in New Orleans
Tripolo Gallery in Covington, Louisiana
You can also find Rebecca Rebouche dinnerware, wallpaper and ceramics at Anthropologie.com and at Anthropologie stores across North America and the U.K.