What to do in corona-times with…Rachelle Meyer

In times of #socialdistancing, we’d like to introduce you to all those people at the wharf. We’ve asked them for their Monday motivation and how they’re getting through these unusual times. This week: Rachelle Meyer.

Rachelle Meyer, born in the state of Texas, is an American artist and illustrator. As a child she spent most of her time with her nose in a book which has sparked her big passions for drawing, storytelling and travelling. She graduated with a degree in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin after which she worked as a Photoshop expert in New York. Now she has launched her career as an illustrator in Europe. In addition to commissioned work, she also writes and illustrates her own books.

Hi Rachelle! It’s so nice to talk to you today. Can you tell a little about your relationship with the NDSM?

I’ve been living in Amsterdam for thirteen years. Four years ago, we moved from Amsterdam Oost to the Tuindorp Oostzaan. So, I started taking the NDSM ferry to my studio, which at that time was located in the center. I drew fellow passengers in a tiny sketchbook every morning, and that daily practice evolved into my multimedia art project, Faces on the Ferry. I picked up a flyer for the NDSM Treehouse during the NDSM Vrijhaven and added myself to the mailing list. When a container opened up in 2018, I applied using Faces on the Ferry as my project plan. Now I live and work in Noord, so ironically, I hardly ever take the ferry anymore! But I love this area and my short commute.

All the way from Texas to the NDSM! As you are a real bookworm, do you have have any reading recommendations?

Ali Smith wrote a seasonal series of books, and I’ve devoured Autumn, Winter, and Spring so far. Summer is yet to come! They have been labelled as post-Brexit literature, but with the increasingly strange world we live in, you might as well add them to the corona canon.

And what about music? Any good playlists that get you through the day?

When the lockdown started, I created a playlist called “Places I have lived and loved” on Spotify. 

I felt so distant and helpless in the face of what was happening, not just locally, but in other cities that I’ve called home, particularly New York. I kept adding to it. Now the playlist has a lot of upbeat, survivor songs tacked on to the end of it, so it’s a great journey to take, with a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Amazing how music has had the ability to give you some consolation. Is there also a work of art that gives you comfort? 

Just making art myself provides a great deal of distraction and relief. It’s how I process the world, and during particularly trying times, it helps me make sense of things. I’ve started working on a series of three biocomics about growing up Catholic in Texas. I think it’s appealing to me so much right now because I’m physically cut off from my home state. We had planned to go visit this May, and I haven’t been to The States since 2017. I’m creating these stories partially in homage, partially to linger on these sensory memories and inhale them.

There’s a portrait of my son hanging in my home by Marja Broersen titled “Kid A.” It’s a gorgeous piece that just slides over the curves of his young face so lovingly. That gives me a lot of comfort.

We’ll keep an eye on your blog to stay updated with your latest work. And that’s a really beautiful painting! Have you been listening to any podcasts you’d recommend?

So many! I have a lot of standard favorites, like Hidden Brain, All Songs Considered, and the Ted Radio Hour. There are some illustration specific ones, like 3-Point Perspective, Make It Then Tell Everybody, and Comic Lab. A couple of great ones have been introduced through The New York Times during the lockdown: Sugar Calling and Rabbit Hole.

That’s a bunch of podcasts to add to our list! Do you have a new daily ritual you’ve made your own during the past few months? 

I started playing the ukulele. It’s a different activity to be absorbed in that doesn’t relate directly to my career, so it’s a nice distraction. Sometimes my kid jumps on the keyboard and we all have a singalong, and even though it’s really goofy I enjoy it very much. I feel like our family has become a quirky Norman Rockwell painting.

Is there something you’ve learned from this time? 

I already liked my local community, but I value these people even more now. The old adage of thinking globally, acting locally has a different weight to it. Globally, we’re all experiencing this life-changing pandemic, and locally, we’re the ones who are best equipped to help our neighbours and our NDSM community. Furthermore, I’m in absolute awe of the health care providers who serve us around the clock.

Beautifully put! And what have you missed the most lately? 

My family.

And lastly, what are your expectations of a post-corona time?

To catch a flight to Texas and hug my mom. To approach each day with gratitude – for life, for health, for love.

Click here to follow Rachelle on Instagram. 

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