THOM BENNETT PHOTOGRAPH
Rachel David’s love of art began in childhood. The daughter of an electrical engineer and a potter, she landed somewhere between the two professions, armed with a knack for mathematical precision and the soul of an artist.
“I’ve always been prolific in terms of making stuff,” says David, who was using her father’s wood saw in grade school and was introduced to metalworking through a 7th grade class. In metalworking, the New Jersey-born and Baltimore-raised artist found her medium and was hooked.
“Blacksmithing is called the King of Crafts because we’re toolmakers,” she says. “All of the tools for other arts are made from metal. Toolmaking influences my work extensively.”
Tools are only the tip of the hammer. As a blacksmith (one who hand-forges metal versus using cast metal, which is more brittle and less durable), David produces furniture, sculpture and architectural elements, such as railings and gates. Her 7th Ward studio, Red Metal, is small, but thriving. Between commissions, public sculpture, work for developers, gallery exhibitions, a national list of craft shows that has included The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival five years running and teaching engagements (last summer, she took a “workation” that included giving workshops in Austin, Los Angeles and Oakland), she is an artist in demand.
Each of David’s works is a one-of-a-kind creation. Most accent the plasticity of the material and many incorporate organic motifs. Her interest in patternmaking, love of gardening, tooling experience and the self-described “total weirdness” of her New Orleans surroundings are all major influences. Social movements are a theme as well.
“I’m interested in how we express ourselves in a visual vocabulary,” says David, whose love of art extends across genres. Antoni Gaudí, Egon Schiele and Chakaia Booker are among the past and present artists she reveres.
Publicly displayed works include the gates at the Bywater Arts Lofts, the fencing at the Bienville Basin and a large sculpture entitled “Weft” at Loyola and Poydras — part of the Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition sponsored by the Helis Foundation. Works also can be viewed online and through the Gallery at Somes Sound in Bar Harbor, Maine. The common thread through all of them is the importance of the work process itself.
“When something is made beautifully and well crafted,” says David. “I get really excited about it.
artwork photographed by Dexter Stewart
View several online galleries of David’s work at redmetal.net.