About Barbara Rachko
I am drawn to Mexican and Guatemalan cultural objects—masks, carved wooden animals, papier mâché figures, and toys—for reasons similar to those of Man Ray and the modernists, who in their case were drawn to African art.
On trips to southern Mexico and Guatemala I frequent local mask shops, markets, and bazaars searching for the figures that will later populate my pastel paintings and photographs. How, why, when, and where these objects come into my life is an important part of the process.
I take very old objects with a unique Mexican or Guatemalan past—most have been used in religious festivals—and give them a second life, so to speak, in New York in the present. When I return home I read prodigiously and find out as much about them as I can.
Barbara Rachko is an American contemporary artist and author who divides her time between residences in New York City and Alexandria, VA. She is best known for her
pastel-on-sandpaper paintings, her eBook, “From Pilot to Painter,” and her blog, “Barbara Rachko’s Colored Dust.”
Barbara has led an extraordinary, inspiring life. She learned to fly at the age of 25 and became a commercial pilot and Boeing-727 flight engineer before joining the Navy.
As a Naval officer she spent many years working at the Pentagon and retired as a Commander.
On 9/11 her husband, Dr. Bryan C. Jack, was tragically killed on the plane that hit the Pentagon.
Barbara uses her large collection of Mexican and Guatemalan folk art – masks, carved wooden animals, papier mâché figures, and toys – to create one-of-a-kind
pastel-on-sandpaper paintings that combine reality and fantasy and depict personal narratives. Her paintings are bold, vibrant, and extremely unusual.
New York critic Peter Dellolio remarks, “It is undeniable that, like de Chirico, Barbara Rachko has created a unique, original, and very private landscape.”
Arts writer Ann Landi writes, “Barbara Rachko’s antecedents are not in the folk art traditions of the cultures she studies and embraces, but rather in the sophisticated strategies of Henry Matisse (who was a master at mixing patterns) and Edgar Degas (who exploited the power of obliqueangles and cropped figures).”
Barbara exhibits nationally and internationally and has won many awards during her 30+ years as a professional artist.
Interviewed by Brainard Carey for Yale radio WYBC
2013 Selected for a fellowship to the New York School of Art Independent Study Program
2012 A Grant from The Templar Trust, Liechtenstein to produce a book about my work, to be published by MUSECPMI, New York, NY
2011 Nominated for the Freedom to Create Prize, Singapore
2010 Grants from The Templar Trust, Liechtenstein, and the Midtown West Arts Association, New York, NY, for a solo exhibition at H P Garcia Gallery, New York, NY
2009 Award Winner, Lenore Sagan Visual Arts Awards, Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation, New York, NY
Grants from The Templar Trust, Liechtenstein and the Midtown West Arts Association, New York, NY, for a solo exhibition at H P Garcia Gallery, New York, NY
2007 CAN Fellowship Recipient, Contemporary Art Network, New York, NY; selected by Barbara MacAdam, deputy editor, ARTnews
2000 Chosen for the inaugural class, “Emerge2000,” Aljira, Newark, NJ; selected by Richard Klein, assistant director, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT