Skip to main content

Rachel Ahava Rosenfeld


We love these portraits and snapshots of daily life and interactions that Rachel Ahava Rosenfeld creates! She puts a new life on these remnants of the past by blocking out colors and shadows to capture their narrative. Her work explores relationships between memory, documentation, and nostalgia. 

Rachel Ahava Rosenfeld is a painter working in River North, Chicago. She received her BA in Studio Art from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, and MFA in Visual Art from Washing University in St Lois. She has continued learning at te Jerusalem Studio School master class in Civita Castellana as well as the University of Chicago and Hyde Park Art Center. Before relocating to Chicago, she had the opportunity to research and make art in Europe and the Middle East. Working out of her home studio, she revisits unresolved paintings and takes inspiration from an archive of found snapshot photographs. She as show in local museums, pop-up galleries, and group exhibits in the Chicago area, and throughout the United States.

Rachel explains her work:

A lifelong and impulsive desire to  gather abandoned things is art the heart of my artistic practice . As a child, I habitually plucked dirt-caked “curiosities” out of the gutters, convinced that I could coax them into divulging the secrets of past lives, thus restoring some mythical status or magical power. 

The original trophies gleaned from  my suburban excavations are long gone. That same urge still entices me to hunt through the mundane material residue of modern lives.  I am most fascinated by the yellowing family photographs that I harvest haphazardly from rural antique malls and online estate sales, adding them to treasure-trove of abandoned snapshots archived in my Chicago studio.  There is a gem-like quality to these scraps, each one paradoxically characterized by a captivating familiarity and persistent, eery silence. I use paint as a vehicle to revive them. The painting process requires intimate scrutiny in search of the fragmentary histories that survive within minute hints. Each canvas is infused with absent memories, and all of the embedded potential that persists between the lines of half-told stories.  The photographed scenes are re-invented by the perceptual and tactile interactions that unfold with each painted layer. One by one, they give movement and form to scenes otherwise fossilized on paper. Unlike the documents to which they refer, the paintings derive their power not from authenticity, but from possibility. 

I approach the snapshots not only as a window into the past but as an artifact leftover by the unknowable multitude frozen there.  I want to know how they interact with the world, and what emotions and curiosities they inspire in their new viewers. Holding the snapshots is an intimate experience, normally reserved for a tight circle of familiars. By exploring their physical qualities, I want to delve into the ways that heirlooms are limited by the tangible realities of flatness and fragility. Like an archaeologist picking the desert sand off a disjointed skeleton I hope that I can keep these lives from slipping below the metaphorical surface of the avalanches that characterize the 21st century.

The vignettes that intertwine and eclipse one another across the picture plane personify the frustrating impenetrability of the past. Freed from the burdens of authenticity, the ordinary past is transformed into a vernacular mythology . Every piece represents the intersections and contradictions between historic documentation, memory, and nostalgia. As a body of work, these paintings refer to both the tantalizing promise that emanates from lost treasures and the maddening reality that no matter what details survive from the past, they can only ever show us the ghosts of the glories and tragedies which preceded our own.

See more of her work at and on Instagram @rachel_ahava


Popular posts from this blog

Jo Illustrates!

Nancy Gruskin

Modern still life and figural paintings capturing the beauty in daily experiences, Nancy Gruskin's work creates a narrative with beautiful brushwork and use of color. We love the gestural quality and implied forms  of her work, adding a fresh perspective to classic still lives. 

Nancy Gruskin is a figurative and still life painter from Concord, Massachusetts.She received a B.A. in Art History and Studio Art from Connecticut College and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Art History from Boston University.After teaching architectural history for several years, she now devotes herself to painting full-time.Her paintings emerge from everyday experiences and familiar views and are based on direct observation, photographs, invention and memory.Gruskin has shown her work across the United States and has an upcoming exhibition in Australia.She teaches painting at the Concord Center for the Visual Arts.
More of her work can be viewed at and on Instagram @nancygruskin.

Joanna Paola Honeyman

Vibrant hues in beautifully rendered still lives and figural work capturing often overlooked moments in daily life. The work of Joanna Paola Honeyman creates a narrative inviting the viewer to step back for a moment and observe joy and inspiration in every situation. Her paintings makes us want to pull up a chair at one of her dinners or tea/coffee breaks and take it easy for a moment. We hope you enjoy her work as much as we do!
Joanna Paola Honeyman is an artist living in Los Angeles. She has worked professionally as a graphic designer and has experimented with various art forms including calligraphy, jewelry making, photography, printmaking and costume design before finding her passion in oil painting.

Her work focuses on everyday themes, aiming to uplift the observer by taking a lighthearted approach to her subject matter. She explains:

Our daily lives are overwhelmed by many things competing for our attention. We are moving so fast that we often forget to acknowledge the wonderful t…