Rachel Ferber


Rachel Ferber is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and educator based in Cleveland, OH. Her work explores the sticky sides of power, performance and sustainability through the lens of commodified private space. Ferber holds an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and a BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art. In addition to her studio, she runs an experimental natural dye project called The Dye Bath, and is one half of the art and design initiative, NEW NEW NEW — an ongoing project with her partner, Adam Lucas. She has held solo and group exhibitions across the United States, and was recently appointed as Assistant Professor at Cleveland Institute of Art.




All photos and images created by Rachel Ferber ©2023 unless otherwise noted.

My work reflects on the designed world and its influence on our psychological, corporeal and material sensibilities. Using video, sculpture and textile processes, I investigate the commodification of our everyday lives where the visual and metaphorical language of design, marketing and performance affects even the most mundane activities.

Engaging the many definitions of consumption, I frame the body and domestic space as sites of conflict between resistance and complicity in oppressive systems and power structures. Scenes of distorted private space render the familiar humorous, strange and uncomfortable in order to expose the complexities of our entanglements in these networks. Food, clothing, household tools, objects, and even the body serve as props in the performance of this space. Through the creation of subtly bizarre material interactions, I question our role in structures that we ethically and ideologically disagree with—systems we rely on and partake in despite our differences. Using speculative and DIY approaches, I propose a reclamation of agency, while also grappling with the limits of these actions…

Who is directing?

Is autonomy an option when even the homemade can be traced back to the store-bought?

Where does the seemingly benign become dangerous?

Aren’t we all holding up our own sets?

This work is informed by intersections of feminist and media theories; as well as environmental ideologies and practices.

Read my full Artist Statement ︎︎︎

A Note on Material Consumption

I believe that creative output can and should be environmentally responsible, without the necessity of being about environmental responsibility. Sustainable efforts and practices must not be a gimmick. They must be habits integrated into every component of our lives, which means that they sometimes go unacknowledged.  

However, I’d like to make note of some of my efforts to lessen my environmental impact because they are, in fact, conceptually relevant to my work—disrupting and working around traditional modes of material acquisition and value attribution. The materials that I use to create costumes, props and sculptural objects are largely second-use. I source used textiles from domestic space—often my own. Bed sheets and dishtowels become garments and sleeves that never quite transcend their origin. I store and use my food scraps, or forage for local plant matter, to dye fabrics for use in my studio; and have developed processes to limit the waste of any food that I use in my work (usually bringing it back into my home and eating it myself). Similarly, ready-made objects and waste materials often come into my studio by way of my living space. Thrift stores and re-use centers are also both a source of material and inspiration. Some of these strategies are more effective than others, and navigating the complexities of material use is what I find most interesting. Ultimately, I aim to connect the processes of my daily life with those of my studio practice, in order to activate my own circular system of material consumption.

we learn through images — we perform through materials