Rachel Farbiarz

Transformer Auction: ArtSee Picks

As we started with (e)merge, the ArtSee team has decided to pick our favorites from the lineup for the 10th Annual Transformer Auction & Benefit Party.  For the last decade, Transformer has been hosting their annual fundraiser at the Corcoran to include an array of the best of the best in DC's art scene. The organization puts on the event every year to provide the necessary funding for a year of programming and exhibitions. In its' 10th year, the auction will include 200 original pieces by local artists and those from Colombia, in honor of the Auction Diplomatic Chair, Carlos Urrutia, The Ambassador of Columbia. The event is a one-of-a-kind chance to interact with local artists, collectors and other arts enthusiasts, like us! 

Read on for our favorite picks... 

Elizabeth Grazioli, ArSee Founder and Creative Operations Director

Rachel Farbiarz, Study (with rockers)
Starting Bid: ???

As not only an ArtSee favorite, but one of my personal favorite artists, it was easy to select Farbiarz's work as my pick for this years' auction. Her piece, Study (with rockers) is a drawing of perhaps the beginning thoughts of one of her sculptural pieces that was recently featured in Heiner Contemporary's Take Me With You. Farbiarz has focused much of her recent work on displacement and migration of people and cultures, but this piece perhaps simplifies those thoughts to a collection of chairs. Although being auctioned off on Friday, the piece was part of her show at Heiner and when I saw it, I was immediately drawn to it. The way in which Farbiarz can use drawing to transformer her work is so unique. I am sure, even without a starting bid, that it will be a big winner of the night! 

Shira Karsen, ArtSee Creative Assistant

Joshua Johnson, Bractea
Starting Bid: $350

One of my favorite pieces in this year's auction is Joshua Johnson's Bractea, a hand-sewn, hand-painted and hand-worn mash-up of multiple centuries worth of armor details. Johnson's inspiration is "historical flatness," the idea of taking the romanticized ideals, fashions, stories and legends from different centuries, and incorrectly flattening them into a more specific time period. This piece, having seen it in person during its many stages, was worked and reworked to ensure that everything, down to the fake gold leaf, was done with purpose. Bractea is also a living work. As it ages, specks of the leaf will fall off the fabric, eventually cracking the superficial surface and creating a forced "vintage" look. 

Naomi Minkoff, ArtSee Creative Intern

Brooke Bronner, Project Life – Ft. Green
Starting Bid: $900

I enjoy Bronner's works because they take an interesting perspective on urban life. Though she has experienced three different cities—born in Brooklyn, raised in Asia, and now living in DC—there is a sameness in the way Bronner depicts the cities while still visually depicting the small details which make each one recognizably distinct. She uses a zoomed out perspective of cityscapes to emphasize their blocky and repetitive natures. Still, somehow these landscapes appear to be very personal as each building and each floor is different from one another. The viewer is drawn in to ponder life in these cities and the people who, like the artist, live in this geometric maze.

Roxanne Goldberg, ArtSee Creative Writer

Mei Mei Chang, Untitled 1
Starting Bid: $290

Mei Mei Chang has had a fantastic year. Most recently exhibited in Brooklyn, Dallas, and Berlin, in addition to a number of galleries in the DC-area, the artist’s complex and multilayered works offer opportunities for viewers to glimpse into the artist’s mind. At auction, Chang’s 2012 Untitled 1 is a small-scale mixed-media work on handmade paper. The object’s size entices the viewer to approach the work, and thus to confront his perception with that of Chiang. Seen at close proximity, one identifies muted grey houses overcome by yellow, blue and white geometries that together, reference an Asian screen, intended to shield oneself in modesty. This play on peeking is complemented by a bridge coming from an anonymous source. It’s as if we are invited, given permission to surpass the barrier. Given Chiang’s alluring subject matter and her upcoming solo show at The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Arts Center in Silver Spring, Untitled 1, previously exhibited at (e)merge art fair and the Visual Art Exchange in Raleigh, NC is an excellent buy for both its aesthetic qualities and market investment.  

Mica Hartman, ArtSee Creative Writer

Breck Brunson, HA! and YEA!
Starting Bid: $50

Corcoran College of Art + Design alum, Breck Brunson has two works featured in the Transformer auction. HA! and YEA! are book paper collages with used frames. Brunson’s use of these aged materials creates a vintage-inspired quality. The images contain soft, muted colors to enhance this timeless look. Brunson’s use of very delicate napkin cutouts, overlaid atop the faces of his now anonymous subjects is very intriguing and is a continuation of this antiquated, lost but preserved in time feeling evoked in HA! and YEA! The retail value is “Priceless!” while the starting bid is $50. This is interesting commentary within the construct of the trash-to-treasure nature of thrift goods. It will be very interesting to see how much these works are auctioned for, adding yet another layer to the “history” of these unique pieces.

For more information on the Transformer 10th Annual Auction, visit the website here. And for a complete list of artists, click here

Bringing the Art in DC to You, 
The ArtSee Team 

Rachel Farbiarz: Take Me With You at Heiner Contemporary

This weekend one of my favorite DC artists will open her solo show at Heiner Contemporary.  The show is collection of three bodies of work that I had the privilege of seeing in progress in her studio over a year ago, just as she was beginning to express the ideas on paper. Rachel Farbiarz has already proven to be a prolific artist who has the ability to create powerful works in almost any medium.  In Take Me With You, Farbiarz will show her work in three different mediums; drawing, collage, and installation.  

The first, which is one of the most profound concepts I have ever seen, is her series entitled The Apology Series. The series is a transcribed apology from the past prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, for the country’s participation in illegal activities with the British.  The result is a whimsical, powerful display of words, lines, and if you let your mind wander, an image of a beautiful sentiment.  

In her artist statement, Farbiarz says that she creates her work in “an effort to memorialize, conserve and dignify words, things, people and happenings."

The other piece in Take Me With You that might ring a little closer to home is the collage piece in the series Christmas Truces & Live-and-let-live, entitled Memorial Hill.  This piece is equally as powerful as her more lengthy apology.  It is a beautiful synergy of different mediums to create the image of a procession of various historical figures.  Farbiarz became interested in a period of World War I known as the truces, when members of all sides would come together for a brief time to put war behind them. In this piece she is most interested in what gets left behind in that interaction - both physically and emotionally.  All that is left behind fills the blank space on the piece - both physically and mentally for the viewer.

Take Me With You is on display at Heiner Contemporary September 20 - November 9. For more information see their website. And for more information on Rachel Farbiarz see her website.      

Bringing the Art in DC to You, 


Coming Home to Heiner Contemporary: A Group Show

An antique wooden cart piled high with seemingly ordinary objects dares visitors to engage, to take a close examination, crouching on their knees in an effort to investigate the pots and pans, standing on their toes to scrutinize the saws and hammers. 


In Housebound, a new exhibition at Heiner Contemporary, each artwork invites visitors to participate in an intimate viewing of domestic space.

The experience begins upon approaching the Book Hill neighborhood gallery, where one is confronted by an abstracted interior standing in the window. A curious installation featuring hanging stairwell banisters and a traditional wooden chair holding an aged sewing machine immediately draws the onlooker’s attention with its baby pink, sea foam green and white color scheme reminiscent of the 1950’s home.

 “It’s all about what you leave behind once you’ve made the hard choices and you’re running out the door,” said artist Rachel Farbiarz of her original work I Wish I Could, “There are certain details you don’t notice in your home, like the shingles on your roof, but at any point in life you would recognize them.”

 “Your home is where you keep your memories and as you grow so does your home. It becomes a reflection of the self and the rooms become an extension of one’s personality,” said Assistant Director Elizabeth Parkman, who in collaboration with gallery owner Margaret Heiner, first envisioned an exhibition exploring the varying definitions of ‘home’ in 2010, a year before opening Heiner.

Shortly after realizing their vision, the curatorial duo set out collecting such artworks as Ann Toebbe’s flat, birds-eye view drawings of friends’ apartments rendered entirely from memory, and Allison Reimus’ delightfully playful and optically intriguing Vessel paintings that abstract architectural and design elements to create a three-dimensional space on a flat surface, executed with such genuine tactility that one must restrain himself from running his fingers along what appears to be lace or gauze.

 Parkman is interested in the psychology of the home, and the exhibition succeeds at questioning the affect a home has on a person and the effect an individual can have on a domestic space.

 ”I had to imagine what it would be like to take your domestic space with you. What happens when it becomes the exterior and you have to take your home on the go?” said Farbiarz of her work Take me with you that is evocative of the refugee experience and echoes the carts characteristically used by the homeless to carry possessions.

Though Farbiarz’s works were constructed mostly from items purchased in thrift stores, the carefully selected fond objects are similar to the Housebound works on paper,in their evocation of highly personalized, yet universal motifs.


Pieces from a crystal chandelier are suggestive of Farbiarz’s grandmother’s prized possessions, and the sewing machine is an homage to a photograph of a woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo who when forced to leave her home, took the one object that cultivated her livelihood. The sewing machine as not only her source of income, but also her genesis of pride, inspired the saws and hammers as an expression of the artist’s father who after escaping the horrors of WWII took the tools necessary to find work.

 Housebound is on display until January 5, 2013. More information can be found on the Heiner Contemporary here.

Bringing the Art in DC to You, 

Roxanne Goldberg

Rachel Farbiarz makes Artomatic personal with 'The Genizah Project'

Artomatic brings the capital the most overwhelming art experience imaginable - an 11 story building packed full of artisans, craft merchants, emerging fine artists, skilled area performers, and energetic workshop instructors. Thousands of diverse artists enthusiastically mix their talents in this decadent hyperactive whirlwind of artistic exploration and adventure. Local and national sponsors provide a variety of resources for the thriving bazaar to continue to serve the Capital in all things art.

In a sea of colorful paintings, ceramics, and sculpture, the din of excited patrons and performance artists, lies an elegantly understated installation of memories. Stepping up to the little corner room on the 9th floor your eyes scroll over the thousands of paper histories in greeting cards, diary pages, photographs strewn across bookshelves, filing cabinets, a desk, a dresser, and the floor. The tiny room holds several lifetimes of the Capital’s personal histories.

Rachel Farbiarz has gathered the district’s personal histories for display with “The Genizah Project.” It’s a beautifully simple idea - the same idea that sparked “The Museum of Broken Relationships.” Art is by nature personal. This artwork is a visual demonstration of the place of art in our lives. Set up as an ordinary home office, “The Genizah Project” is a room of contemplation, propelling your artful soul into personal recollection and thoughtful reverence for those who gave the pieces of their lives to the installation. 

Tucked away in a tiny corner on the 9th floor of Artomatic Farbiarz’s installation quietly awaits the contemplative art viewer. From the doorway the array of strewn letters, cards, brochures, and photographs beckon you in for a closer, more intimate, look. You can vaguely make out the eerie sounds of the performers nearby as your eyes take in the mass collection of discarded memories. But as you examine each scrap more closely you realize that none of these works on paper are meaninglessly rejected from the original owner. Each piece was sent to Farbiarz consciously, purposefully.

Farbiarz has collected our sacred memories and treated them with the respect our nagging conscious tells us they deserve. The room pays homage to the randomness we have kept in our lives. Letting the depth of each memory soak into you, you feel the room is the making of a beginner-hoarder, unable to fully let go of the past but unable to give ample space for each memory to maintain a stronghold in the present.

Farbiarz speaks to our humanity, our sensitivity, and our humility. While the rest of Artomatic maintains an entertaining quality, “The Genizah Project” reminds us of the fullness in which art captivates us - mind and soul.

You can find out more about Rachel Farbiarz and “The Genizah Project” by clicking here. And visit the Artomatic website www.artomatic.org. Artomatic is open in Crystal City through June 23. 

Bringing the Art in DC to You,