In the Spotlight: Rae Heller

rae heller


I’ve been an artist my whole life, but have only embraced and embodied this identity since 2018. I had taken a break from my art making practice for a decade as I pursued and grew my career as a Sign Language Interpreter. And then, in May 2018 my mom asked me to make a painting for her. This opportunity brought me back to myself. My intention has been and continues to be to set aside significant time for my art making. Now, the weekends are for laundry and food prep. Art is my calling and my career. Art is a part of my work on this planet and now happens consistently and during the daylight.

What + Why

Art making is my sanctuary. It connects me to my ancestors and to myself. I think of my grandmother Sarah when I create. I talk to her. I ask her questions. She was a skilled quilt maker and craftswoman. My patterns, abstract geometries, and color play connect me with her art form and spirit. On canvas, I use tape to create space. With sustainability and play in mind, the tape peels are removed from the canvas and become the marks of my paintings on paper. This process is slow, careful, and meditative: a subtractive process becomes additive. The balance of precision and play is a constant in my work as an artist, and honors these same elements within my grandmother’s quilt-making. I create to connect myself to her spirit and honor my own.


When my friend and fellow artist, Lena Jenny told me about the HARDEDGE community, I was like: “YES! These are my people!” And what a vibrant community! Now, though, I see my ‘style’ as less hard and less edge. Because of the geometric layering in my paintings, and the more subtle color play, I sometimes refer to my paintings as “softedge.” My goal is to create depth in space and atmosphere, not bold contrast. Softedge feels more my style.


The largest painting I have made is 6 feet by 3 feet. I want to paint bigger. If anyone has a wall or needs a larger canvas or wants to collaborate. hit. me. up.


My artistic practice directly confronts and contradicts my internalized artist oppression. When I create I often listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and music; I am constantly battling the ways I have been conditioned to think, while I soak in new ideas on how to be. My art is this intersection, or this moment of pruning back what doesn’t serve and also becoming. I love process and deconstruction art for this reason. I save my tape peels to create paintings on paper. I deconstruct peel paintings to create collages. These processes reflect my internal explorations, deconstruction, and renewal.

Thank you very much, Rae.

Artist page


Instagram: @raehells

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