IN 1933, BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE OPENED IN SOUTH CAROLINA, TASKING ITSELF WITH UNITING THE ACADEMIC, CREATIVE AND PHYSICAL WORLDS THROUGH A DEMOCRATIC, COMMUNAL SOCIETY THAT WOULD FOSTER AN ENVIRONMENT OF EXPERIMENTATION AND IDEALLY LEAD TO THE FORMATION OF “COMPLETE” CITIZENS. DURING ITS TENURE, THE SCHOOL SERVED AS AN INCUBATOR FOR MUCH OF WHAT WAS TO BECOME THE NEW YORK SCHOOL. BY CELEBRATING WORKS THAT PRIZED PROCESS OVER PRODUCT, BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE ERASED TRADITIONAL NOTIONS OF “ART” AS A FIXED REFLECTION ON PUBLIC LIFE AND “LIFE” AS EXCLUSIVELY AN IMMEDIATE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
Although the college closed its doors in 1957, its teachings seem all the more salient today, in a world where art has dematerialized into virtual spheres and craft has been elevated to art. Since founding Calico Wallpaper in 2013, Rachel Mosler has actively put this hypothesis to the test. A Brooklyn-based artist, Rachel, together with her partner Nick Cope, creates immersive environments via custom wall murals. Originally inspired by their life, notably watching Hurricane Sandy roll into and wreck havoc upon the waterfront from their Red Hook loft, Rachel and Nick’s work marries handmade and digital techniques that transform everyday living spaces into art.
WHAT DO YOU DO BEST?
I am best at following my heart. This is the only way the world has ever made sense to me.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 20-YEAR-OLD SELF?
That you will love again.
A WINTER NIGHT SONG
A LOVE SONG
A PHOTOGRAPH YOU WISH YOU'D TAKEN
Blue Hour at Big Mushroom, White Desert, Egypt. Photographed by Dominik Orth.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING THE AGE YOU ARE NOW?
Motherhood has changed me in ways that I couldn't imagine. I feel like I have become a woman at long last.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
Working for myself. The level of creative freedom is worth all of the risk and difficulty — I wouldn't trade it for anything.
A SCENE THAT BEST PORTRAYS YOUR PROCESS
YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD PICTURE
A PERFECT PICTURE
Nick and I drove up the Hana Highway in Maui and stayed at charming little place called Luana, in a yurt by the sea.
A SONG YOU HAVE LISTENED TO 10 TIMES IN A ROW
A SONG FOR WORKING
WHAT JOB WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING IF NOT THE ONE YOU DO?
I have always had this romantic dream of being a floral designer. When I grew up on Martha's Vineyard, the flower stands were always so lovely and now in Red Hook we have become friends and neighbors with Saipua. The work seems so fun.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST INSPIRATION FOR YOUR WORK?
I am currently most inspired by The Haas Brothers' Afreaks collaboration with the self-titled Haas Sisters, a women's craft collective in South Africa. I actually recently met Nikolai and Simon at Design Miami and was inspired by the intention behind their project, which returns a full 20% to the women. I think contributing proceeds to global causes is a really fresh approach to design and something that I would like to incorporate at Calico Wallpaper.
YOUR MOST PRECIOUS OBJECT
THE MOST RANDOM THING YOU HAVE IN YOUR STUDIO
A LOVE STORY
It's a tie
WHAT IS THE BEST RISK YOU'VE EVER TAKEN?
I know this shouldn’t necessarily be considered a “risk,” but many people thought I was a bit crazy when I decided to have a home birth and I was very fortunate to have a positive experience. My daughter, Willow, was born at home in Brooklyn in a small pool at 7:05 AM to Neil Young’s Harvest Moon.
SOMETHING YOU CANNOT WORK WITHOUT
A SCENE THAT MAKES YOU CRY