Jewelry by Rachel Carren
Rachel Carren cannot remember a time when she was not interested in the arts.

Rachel began her formal artistic education in the studio arts, but found she also had a passion for art history. She has a BA in art history and English literature and a PhD in 19th century art history, with a special emphasis on American art. She often explains art history as a wonderful discipline that teaches about the art, the artist and the cultural context, which is important because art is never created in a vacuum.

After becoming aware of polymer (a synthetic modeling compound) as an art medium, Rachel experimented independently for a number of years. A seminal moment came in 1999 when she learned that polymer was compatible with acrylic pigment. This revelation initiated her enduring fascination with the surface of the material. Issues of ornamentation and the innate harmony of geometric form are the focus of her current artistic explorations. Rachel’s polymer art is in the permanent collection of a number of American museums.

The past few years, she has been researching and writing about polymer as well. Rachel is the curator of the book Masters: Polymer Clay. She has been involved with the Polymer Art Archive since its inception, most visibly as a contributor of critical commentary. She also has been working with Elise Winters to implement the Polymer Collection Project. This effort has promoted the serious consideration of polymer art among museum curators and encouraged the establishment of a center for the study of polymer art at the Racine Museum of Art.

Rachel lives near Washington, DC. Her studio and writing desk are in adjacent rooms.


Polymer Collection Project:
The objective of this extended project has been to elevate the profile of polymer, a synthetic modeling compound, among museum curators, gallery owners, and other interested parties such as collectors. Initiated by Elise Winters, Rachel quickly joined the cause. In due course they were able to compile a collection of several thousand pieces of polymer art. Highlights of the assembled works were presented to museum professionals with the intent of introducing them to the vast potential and complexity of the medium. While the collection has been dispersed, the larger concept of educating about polymer art remains an ongoing goal. This idea will be greatly advanced through the leadership of Bruce Pepich at the Racine Art Museum. Pepich has committed to establishing a center for the study of polymer art at the museum, as well as the mounting of an exhibition devoted to polymer art with an accompanying academic catalog. The exhibition, Terra Nova: Polymer Art at the Crossroads, will open on October 21st, 2011.

Polymer Art Archive:
The Polymer Art Archive seeks to consolidate a written record of polymer art history into one place. In the span of about thirty years, polymer work has evolved from early explorations of ancient bead techniques into a sophisticated art material that offers artists a wide range of possible directions and techniques. Using recollections from artists and all other available research materials, the PAA aims to weave together the threads of polymer history. Another aim of the site is more broadly educational. In this capacity, Rachel writes regularly about issues of design, critical commentary and other relevant matters with the idea of creating a larger conversation about the state of the medium. The site is intended to be a resource for artists, museum professionals, galleries and collectors who wish to learn more about polymer.

Other activities:
Rachel was part of both the site planning committee and an exhibition committee for the June, 2001 “Courting the Muse” conference sponsored by the National Polymer Clay Guild. This event was held in Bryn Mawr, PA. The related, on site exhibition was an early effort to present the path of polymer history. While limited due to issues of timing and scale, the show featured many important pieces. Rachel documented the exhibition through a check list and slide show.

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Jewelry by Rachel Carren
Rachel Carren
PhD University of Maryland, College Park, MD (19th Century Art History, special emphasis on American Art, minor- 17th Century Dutch)
MA University of Maryland, College Park, MD (19th Century Art History)
BA Tufts University, Medford, MA (English and Art History)

Public Collections:
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI
Newark Museum of Art, Newark, NJ
Mingei Museum of Art, San Diego, CA

Rachel Carren, Bruce W. Pepich, Lena Vigna,  Terra Nova:  Polymer Art at the Crossroads, Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin   2011
“Rachel Carren. A Study in Beauty”, by Jill A. DeDominicis in Ornament Vol. 34. No. 5, pp 34—39
Masters: Polymer Clay
, Lark Books, March 2011
“New York, New York! Sofa Review 2010," Art Jewelry Forum, Spring 2010
Polymer Art Archive, 2008 to present
“Interview: Bruce Pepich,” Art Jewelry Forum, 2009
Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio, Polymer Clay Color Inspirations 2009 (p. 55)
“Create a Custom Clasp,” Polymer Café, Winter 2006, Vol. 4, no.1 p.39
400 Polymer Clay Designs, Lark Books, 2004 (pp. 22, 50, 230, 297, 306)
“How to Make a Gocco Printer Go,” Polyinformer, Winter 2001, Vol. XI, no.1 pp.18-19

Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, Nov., 2010 - Best New Artist “Louise Binswanger Prize”
Creative Crafts Council of Maryland, 2007 - 1st place and honorable mention


CraftNewYork, New York, NY, March 30-April 1, 2012
ACC- Baltimore, Baltimore, MD, Feb. 2012
“Terra Nova: Polymer Art at the Crossroads”, Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI, Oct. 2011- Feb. 2012
Waverly Street Gallery, Jeweler’s Showcase, Bethesda, MD, Sept.-Dec., 2011
CraftNewYork, New York, NY April 2011
Target Gallery, Metalwork ’10, Alexandria, VA, Dec. 2010-Jan. 2011
Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, Philadelphia, 2010
Berkshire Craft Fair, Great Barrington, MA Aug. 2009, 2010
Target Art Gallery, Alexandria, VA April, 2008
Fine Furnishings and Fine Crafts, Providence, RI Oct. 2007
Academy Art Museum, Arts Marketplace, Easton, MD Oct. 2007, 2009
Germantown Friends Show, Germantown, PA March, 2007
Pleiades (invitational show with WGG), Bethesda, MD Nov. 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011
National Museum of Women in the Arts: Holiday Gift Mart, Washington, DC Dec. 2004, 2005
Morristown Craft Market, Morristown, NJ October 2005
Creative Craft Council of Maryland, Rockville, MD May 2005, 2007, 2009

Professional Associations:
American Craft Council
Society of North American Goldsmiths
Art Jewelry Forum
Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts
Washington Guild of Goldsmiths
International Polymer Clay Guild
Associate Member - Torpedo Factory Artist Association, Alexandria, VA


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