Rachel Tonn | Earthy Inks & a Ecstatic Dance

The Curious World of Rachel Tonn

Rachel Tonn is one of those one in one-hundred thousand people you meet and instantly connect with. Her ability to make you feel comfortable is borderline magical. Her journey as an artist is only just beginning but it’s something well worth following.

I think what draws people to Rachel is probably her ability to make you laugh. A day spent with Rachel is a day spent laughing. On a recent visit we discussed the idea of clowns– how certain people naturally fit into the category of ‘clown’. I started to think of being a clown as being a kind of artist. It’s not something you necessarily strive for, it’s just something you are. Perhaps being a clown is kind of like having a celiac disease– but instead of gluten– you’re allergic to not being hilarious… If that was the definition of clown, Rachel is definitely allergic to not being hilarious.

The positive things to be said about Miss Tonn is pretty long. Her big-hearted nature has also lead her into the field of social work and has made her a large circle of unique and interesting friends. Dancing is a big part of Rachel’s life, through Ecstatic Dance she explores an art in itself but is also as a community practice. Meeting the people Rachel surrounds herself with is pretty cool– probably the most unique people in this town can be found Rachel’s social circle.

Her body of work is growing and I encourage everyone to keep an eye out for it.

When/where/why did you start making art?

I started making art at a young age – I recall a photo of me taken when I was in kindergarten, where I’m holding a paint brush with a big grin on my face, standing proudly beside a picture of a garden I just painted. I was always known as the artist of the family. My exploration into art continued over the years, branching out into photography, sewing, crocheting, and various other mediums. I’ve always loved experimenting. How will my roll of film look if I drop it in chicken noodle soup first? What pigments will I get from these plants if I mash them up and use them as paint? So many fun discoveries to be made!

How long have you lived in kamloops?

I’ve lived in Kamloops for 3 years – I grew up in Winfield, BC.

What did you attend post-secondary for and did it help you on your artistic journey?

I completed my social work degree last year. This actually put quite a significant pause on my artistic journey – I stopped actively making art for about 3 or 4 years. I think at that point of my life, I was comparing myself to a lot of artists and felt too intimated to actually make art. I also had very little time to give to my art. However, I took a drawing class in my last semester of university a couple years ago which helped me let go of some of those artistic insecurities. I was reminded of how cathartic and beautiful the process is, and it gave me the confidence to simply trust in my artistic intuition.

What are your artistic goals for the next 5 years?

Oh boy, this is a big question. Recently, I’ve been thinking about going to school to become an art therapist. Art and dance have been such a huge part of my personal growth and I’ve been feeling inspired to share that with others.

I have ideas for art installations, dance performances, and community projects which I’d love to see come into fruition in the coming years, but I’ve been really, really enjoying the process of just allowing myself to create.

What are your favourite mediums and what do you want to try?

Recently, I’ve been making my own ink with plants and all things earthly, which has been so fun! I’ve been really enjoying the experimentation that comes a long with it. I generally like to pair my inks with charcoal or India ink.

I would really like to try using more natural fibres in my art – I’m a sucker for textures.

Besides making art, what are your passions?

Ecstatic dance is another passion of mine. For those that aren’t familiar, ecstatic dance is a judgement free, safe dance space where people are free to move and express themselves. It encourages people to let go, be, and feel. It has been quite incredible witnessing how dance has changed my life and those around me. And it feels so important to continue to share this piece of wellness with others.

What is the best and most difficult part of the kamloops art scene?

I honestly haven’t engaged too much with the art scene in Kamloops. However, I help organize Ecstatic Dance in Kamloops, which is sort of art related! The best part of this experience has been witnessing the growth of this culture that never existed before in Kamloops. I think the same could be said about the art scene in Kamloops – since there isn’t too much happening here, we have the opportunity to create something new and watch it grow from its infancy. Of course, finding people and venues to support these endeavours is a challenge – Kamloops isn’t the most progressive city. But when those stars do align, the outcome is absolutely beautiful.

What do you want people to know about you and your art?

I’m just having fun. I’m just trying to put my energy into things I truly enjoy. In the past, I got stuck in feeling that I should only make ‘good’ art, which put a block in my creative energy, because none of my art was good enough. I still run into these thoughts and feelings, but I’m learning that accepting and embracing my art and the process is a radical act of self love. It’s a reflection of myself and the journey that I’m on. And what’s more beautiful than that?

You can find my exploration into natural paints on instagram: @wetroots. It’s a little sad right now, but I promise I’ll start posting more soon!

One Comment on “Rachel Tonn | Earthy Inks & a Ecstatic Dance

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