Based in the history of Pop Art, but with intentions wholly different, Rachel Hecker’s paintings and sculptures are blown up representations of those everyday items we think of (if we think of them at all) as disposable. Handwritten lists, post-it notes, calendar scribbles, fortune cookie papers, receipts and pricing stickers are just a few of the items Hecker transforms into acrylic on canvas paintings.
Far more personal than the subject matter of the Pop artists, Hecker carefully recreates by hand each piece of ephemera. Of these works she says:
“They contain vestiges of our intentions and our deeds, and are inadvertent diaries and forensic evidence of how we exist in the world. These scraps of paper detritus anticipate or record a range of experience from the mundane to the exalted, from dull repetition to fancy, and from stasis to expectancy.”
While the works appear to be in the vein of Pop Art, Hecker has much different goals. Refuting the embrace of the mass-produced image that Pop Art encouraged, Hecker is painstakingly hand-painting each work. The act of scribbling on a post-it note takes mere seconds, but turning that post-it note into a 30” x 30” painting takes quite a bit longer. Hecker writes, “I carefully hand-paint as an act of redemption – I am trying to save the image…Slow painting is like turning the beads on a rosary.” Indeed, there is a philosophical if not spiritual undertone to much of Hecker’s work. A painting of a note reads, “learn to rethink each thought,” with “surrender,” “jesus,” “psychic” and a phone number below.
Indeed, this sanctification of personal detritus is what is most interesting about Hecker’s work. We hardly give a thought to the ticket stubs, envelope backs, odds, ends and other random matter that makes up this small part of our lives. But those little things are always representative of something bigger than themselves, something personal and perhaps important.