Rachel Owen is a photographer living and working with her husband and son in the Chicagoland area. Right out of high school Rachel began working as a wedding and portrait photographer and is currently evolving into her true passion, green-screen photography and digital compositing. As an Adobe Certified Photoshop Expert, she often merges photos of her subjects in the studio on greenscreen into miniature objects or even combines multiple photographs to create a new setting that does not exist in the real world.
Many describe Rachel as a “self-taught” artist, but she has an aversion towards this moniker and contributes her knowledge to the study of many master artists. Although she has no formal degree she jumps at every learning opportunity she can; online classes, private workshops, art blogs, museum lectures, and college textbooks are just a few of the ways she satisfies her ambition for education. Considering education her third-highest life priority she makes studying imperative daily practice. You can often find her wandering the Art Institute of Chicago with a favorite book in hand such as Symbols and Allegories in Art.
Rachel's primary goal when photographing anyone is to make the person in front of her lens feel empowered and to have that empowerment show up and provoke the viewer. Her images are often described as surreal and whimsical, and they take the viewer into a fantasy to blur the lines between reality and fiction. Rachel describes her desire to create as a fundamental energy in her soul that hurts more to keep in than to let out.
Response is an interpretation of the pandemic and the resulting cultural and political melee. It is a glimpse into modern society's polarization and paramount need for social acceptance and simultaneous imperative self-isolation. Response explores the exfoliation of social interaction to reveal the heart of the self, experienced in a new way, or perhaps for the first time, by so many in first-world countries. It explores a new relationship with the self both welcomed and resisted, and how the turmoil of the pandemic is a metaphor for the pandemic of the soul.
On a road trip at the peak of the lockdown in April 2020, I explored true isolation in the most desolate parts of the US. It was in the remoteness of the desert and solidarity with the earth that I began to feel a quiet overcome my soul; I initiated the question of what was in that quiet, and if I relished or detested it. In the forty-plus hours of driving and isolation of camping, I began to have an eidetic visualization of my emotions and the resulting images were conceived. Death Valley is the backdrop for most of the work. I photographed models on greenscreen in the studio and combined them into the desert backgrounds.
With growing political and societal estrangement, my concept evolved exploring influences outside the self and the effects they have on the psyche both temporary and permanent. The images are designed in such a way as the viewer will see his/her own political agenda glorified. As much as Response is about inner turmoil and reflection there is also a sense of hope and rebirth attached to the images. It probes at a new sense of self and a hopeful restart that can come from humanity and the earth if only we choose to activate it.