Photo by André Smits
As a painter, Rawles explores the intersecting axes of race and gender. In her most recent work, that exploration has meant going to the water. For Rawles water is a marker of life, of growth and discovery . However, she recognizes it has a complex connection to racial exclusion, cultural fears, as well as, being a nostalgic place of leisure and play. Water was the medium that conducted black people into slavery. The swimming pools of the Jim Crow South, were transformed into battle-fields during the Civil Rights movement.
In her current series of paintings “Pressure", Rawles uses the body in the water, and the fractals swirling around that body, to create an abstracted, other-worldly portrait. At times her subjects look like land formations in the sea. But she aims to ground those subjects in personal, and real-life narratives of struggle, humility, acceptance, strength.
Rawles was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. She refined her aesthetic sensibilities at Spelman College, earning a B.A. in art, and continued her education at New York University, where she received an M.A. in painting.