Rachel Hubbard Kline is an art educator and artist in her hometown Kansas City, MO. With a background in fashion and art history, she explores relationships of fine art and craft in the disciplines of drawing, painting, ceramics and fiber. Hubbard draws on her Midwestern roots and ties to rural farm life to reflect on past ways of life based on collections and artifacts.
Introduce yourself and describe your work and the media/genre you work in.
I am a Kansas City-born and raised artist and art educator. As a multi-disciplinary artist, I primarily work in ceramics and fiber. My work explores the personal connections to historical domestic objects, material culture and collections. As the oldest of artifacts, the handmade clay object has the ability to tell a story through evoking memories of places, people and events. Objects, both functional and decorative, factor into the routineness of daily life or reverence for ritual. I seek symbiosis in the relationship of surfaces to forms and address the hierarchy of importance between the form itself and the image or decoration.
Your work incorporates the use of visual and conceptual patterns. Tell us more about that.
I have always been drawn to color and pattern. Patterns give us a way to visually organize information. We see patterns in architecture, textiles, and nature. Domestic patterns often connect us to memories of childhood or a grandparents’ home. Patterns on textiles can remind us of stories. The patterns I use in my tile work reference early American quilts and are also associated with ceramic tiling patterns across time and place.
My grandmothers passed several quilts and incomplete quilt pieces down to me that have made their way into my collection of artifacts. Incorporating these quilt patterns and textile prints into clay allows me to uphold memories and the larger history of the quilting tradition considered women’s work.
Has teaching inspired or changed how you create?
Being a teaching artist has a large impact on my work. Rather than specializing in one discipline, I have a broad background in art. I have taught high school Drawing, Design, Painting, Fiber and Ceramics. This works out well for me because I love learning new things. Each discipline can inform and cross into another in my personal work. Instructing ceramics pushed my making in that direction. Teaching sharpens skills through articulating and demonstrating techniques. Students ask really great questions and have specific interests, which means I’m learning alongside them if I don’t know the answers.
What is your most important artistic tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
This is a difficult question! Because I work in many media, I have lots of things and I admit, I’m a maximalist. However, when it comes to making, I do have a few favorite tools. For ceramics, it’s a red rubber rib, a finishing sponge and underglaze. Of course, my collections of reference material are essential.
Please list 5-10 books, movies and/or music from the Johnson County Library catalog that currently inspire you.
I am extra excited to be part of this interview because I mostly listen to audiobooks while I’m working in the studio. Here are some of my reads from this year:
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Anxious People by Fredrick Backman
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia