‘It Always Comes Back to My Own Embodiment’: Watch Artist Rachel Rossin Merge Plexiglas Molds of Her Body With Digital Painting

As part of a collaboration with Art21, hear news-making artists describe their inspirations in their own words.

Production still from the Art21 "New York Close Up" film, "Rachel Rossin's Digital Homes." © Art21, Inc. 2021.

Rachel Rossin has made art her entire life, even if she didn’t always realize it.

A self-taught computer programmer, Rossin learned to hack games, break them apart, and try to reconstitute them, learning how the “backend” worked from the inside out. Saving images of avatars from the games, Rossin built up an archive that she would mine later to make virtual-reality works. that blend three-dimensional sculptures based on her own body with elements from games like Call of Duty and characters in the style of Japanese manga.

Right now, Rossin’s work THE MAW OF is on view as part of the Whitney Museum’s “artport” program for new-media art.

Production still from the Art21 “New York Close Up” film, “Rachel Rossin’s Digital Homes.” © Art21, Inc. 2021.

Rossin, who grew up in West Palm Beach and is now based in Brooklyn, recalled her earliest forays into art-making as “a form of escapism.” In an exclusive interview filmed as part of Art21’s New York Close Up series shot in 2021, Rossin explains how her interest in technology-based art grew as the medium itself became more advanced, but always served as a safe haven for her in the midst of an often chaotic upbringing.

To create the work I’m my loving memory (2020-21), which blends digital paintings, plexiglas sculptures, and AR, Rossin molds plexiglas from her own shape. She describes them as “hollow body imprints of myself,” which act as shields. 

“For myself,” Rossin told Art21, “it always comes back to my own embodiment and how to anchor this very abstract, loose space in the same dimension that I’m in.”


Watch the video, which originally appeared as part of Art21’s series New York Close Up, below. “Rachel Rossin: The Maw Of” is on view via the Whitney Museum’s ARTPORT.

This is an installment of “Art on Video,” a collaboration between Artnet News and Art21 that brings you clips of news-making artists. A new season of the nonprofit Art21’s flagship series Art in the Twenty-First Century is available now on PBS. Catch all episodes of other series, like New York Close Up and Extended Play, and learn about the organization’s educational programs at Art21.org.

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