Teacher Stories: Rachel Mambach, Red Bank Primary School Pre-K – 3rd Grade Art
I don’t remember ever not loving art. My dad is an amazing painter, so it was a part of my life for as far back as I can remember. Both of my parents were super involved in our lives growing up, but it was my dad who had the influence with the art. I had my first show, a solo show at the Tides in Asbury Park, in 2014. I have had exhibits at libraries and pop-up markets. It has all been in local places. At my first show, someone sent me an email saying he was driving down the shore, and he was having a stressful day, and he went to Hotel Tides and was looking at my work and he said it helped him calm down, which is so cool. I didn’t create the exhibit thinking it would calm people down, but when people share that that is the effect it has on them, it’s a really great feeling.
I feel like it is harder to make art during a difficult season in my life. I am more creative when I am happy and things are going well. I have created art during tough times, but I look at it two months later and I just hate it. I don’t think I hate it because of the feelings I had when I made it, but I think it’s because of the mindset I was in at that time, and I don’t feel like it’s my art. I tend to make my art very colorful and I think it is just genuinely how I feel at that moment.
My grandmother, who passed away when I was 16, has inspired my art. I will get an idea inspired by her pop in my head, and that is some of my proudest work. It is partially from how she lived her life, and partially from moments I had with her. For example, I made a piece of art called, “Fruit Time,” and it’s a mandala, which would have different fruits going in a circle. When I was a little girl, we would have fruit time with her, and it was just an afternoon snack of fruit that she sliced and put on the plate for us, but she just made it exciting. So I saw on Instagram that it was National Avocado Day, and it sparked that idea.
When I was in elementary school, in 4th and 5th grade, a bunch of kids made fun of the way I walked and talked. I didn’t have a speech impediment, I didn’t go to speech therapy or anything, and I didn’t have a problem with the way I walked, but I did talk fast, which is what they zeroed in on. I tried ignoring it, but it did bother me. But then when I got into 6th grade, two different schools merged into one, and some of my new friends started standing up for me, and it kind of fizzled out after that. I don’t think it’s rare for kids to get picked on, but I actually think, from the perspective of a teacher, kids are being more kind to each other. But I would never say it was something that defined my life, but it helps me as a teacher to know what to look for.
- Interview by Gregory Andrus
If you want to see more of his work, go to www.portraitsofthejerseyshore.com
Click here to see Rachel Manbach’s art on Instagram.