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  • Rachel Ribando-Gros '14
  • Orleans Blvd.
  • 2020
  • Oil on canvas
  • 31.75 x 25.5 inches
  • Courtesy of the artist

Rachel Ribando-Gros spent most of her time at Hendrix College in the Art complex. She enjoyed exploring photography and printmaking, but soon decided to pursue a Painting emphasis. Between her junior and senior year, Ribando-Gros attended a drawing and painting course at the Chautauqua School of Art in New York. That same summer, she helped Professor Lopas prepare and install a solo exhibition of his work at the Narthex Gallery. Outside of the Art Department, Ribando-Gros worked in the Media Center under Bobby Engler-Young, the college’s Director of Media Services.

In 2017, three years after Ribando-Gros graduated, Engler-Young reached out to her about creating a mural for the new Dawkins Welcome Center. Ribando-Gros created a white-scale collage celebrating Hendrix’s campus and culture, consisting primarily of photographs taken by alumni Lexi Adams, with additional contributions from faculty, staff, and students. Engler-Young then set up video projection, which broadcasts videos of a variety of student activities across the collage. This mural, which took just under a year to complete, is still a favorite amongst Hendrix students.

In 2018, Ribando-Gros began working on Orleans Blvd, named after the street on which she was living. She describes this time as a low point in her life, when she had a difficult relationship, an unsatisfying job, and little knowledge of how to care for herself. The objects in this still-life evince particular sources of strife for Ribando-Gros, while the myriad of reflective surfaces indicate the necessity of self-reflection to surmount adversity. Ribando-Gros says that, in retrospect, she began the painting in “an attempt to begin processing grief.” But soon life became overwhelming, and she stopped working on the painting before it was finished.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Ribando-Gros felt ready to attempt this painting again. She found herself in a different state of mind, as taking control of her health and professional life augmented her ability to process difficult situations. She approached the work with a more balanced, level-headed approach and took control over the scene by mixing realism with inventiveness. For Ribando-Gros, the objects still symbolize difficult experiences, but they now also symbolize opportunities for growth.

Rachel Ribando-Gros currently lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. After working in printshops across the city, she is now combining her technical skills and art skills to pivot towards graphic design work. She now attends Tulane University’s Digital Design program and works as a freelance graphic designer.