We spoke with Raquel Bell about wanting to be a snake, only seeing color and shadow, hearing bird songs in unison, why life is a dangerous adventure and why the air is garbage.
One thing that delights me is when a shadow falls across a painting of mine and alters the composition drastically.
Your visual work seems to be both micro and macro — I feel like I’m looking both at a vast landscape but also an inhuman, cellular world at the same time. What is your approach to visual perspective, in any way, shape or form?
Agreed. In addition, sometimes I see only color and shadow. Self-censorship in seeing is a sneaky trap. I attempt to see with my feelings. Perspective is everything. One thing that delights me is when a shadow falls across a painting of mine and alters the composition drastically. Then I am thrilled. Somehow, it destroys and lifts me and returns me to nature.
I love shadows when they fall diagonally across a piece. Just thinking about this possibility is making me smile really hard and dance with my eyes all over the room looking for diagonal shadows! My problem is that I love art so much. It really is a problem. I get stuck in a time warp of loving a piece of art. It can hold me up for years, actually.
Can you describe your studio or workspace? What are you currently working on?
I am a drifter when I’m not at Mysterioso Ranch or at The Museum of Human Achievement in Texas. At the moment, the art space is my friend Dominic’s kitchen table that I have covered in plastic wrap because he will be so mad if I screw up his table while he is away. I have been painting a silk coat and many other things on it. A beautiful watercolor. I also made some basket sorts of things. I am also building a music studio in my best friends’ house in Los Angeles where I will be working on a new record with my band called Galecstasy. This is extremely exciting because the material is a dream.
I’m sometimes freaked out by how fragile our bodies are. Have you ever felt fearful or protective about your own ability to see, hear, or dance?
Wow. What a freaking amazing question. I am listening to Bernard Herrmann and I’m terrified just thinking about it under these dramatic audio conditions. Being vulnerable is the holy grail. I am crazy and wild every single day because I allow myself the joy of knowing that it is a dangerous adventure with an ending. I love this work.
Do you ever feel like “marketing” oneself as a musician, dancer or painter drains out the inherent soul of art? Do you think your work shouldn’t belong in a capitalistic realm, though streaming services, etc. seem to be the only route these days?
I’m giggling. It is so easy to be a victim. I think for the most part, life in 2018 is hell. The air tastes like garbage, the cell phone destroys precious minutes effortlessly, fascists, etc.
On the other hand, who gives a shit? Artists fight back and disagree. We find one another and build strong communities that work behind the scenes to mess up the status quo. If you stop for one second and compare yourself or your situation to another, you will fail. I have to constantly remind myself that I am a warrior and buck up. Some days, I don’t even know what the battle is. That is why some days I have to be a dancer and other days a boring person doing laundry. It is important to fight a good battle each day and go to bed tired.
If marketing comes from a place of wanting to share my heart’s dream, then it will find a way. I want to hate Spotify because they are horrible or whoever is horrible at the moment, but I can’t waste time on that hatred. It is kind of a strange situation. Right now, I am imagining I am the same person but living in a remote village before telephones or electricity. What would that do to my art? I hope that I wasn’t just a clogger in a village. If I was a clogger, I’d hope I was a naked clogger. I’m sure I hit on the preacher or his 10-year-old son.
I like the idea of being a big snake in a jungle or in a really hot place with great rock formations for a short time.
Do you think that if we treated everyone — right, wrong, good or evil — as having a lesson to teach us, then our lives would improve? Or are some human beings inherently lesson-free in their existence?
Allow me to scramble up your idea a little bit. What if every person is us and all objects/things are us? Then what is the lesson? The best part is that everything is a lesson if you are an artist. That is why it is the most thrilling job in the world. How I see into the mirror of life is what can transform the slightest crap into the divine. Again, I could get stuck for a year staring at a fallen leaf. This is a problem when you have to pee and stuff.
What’s the farthest you have ever run or walked? Can you explain the situation, time and place you were in in detail?
Well, I have backpacked. Quite a bit as a child. I love walking. I hope to become one of the walking people someday.
If given the choice, would you have an animal existence rather than a human one? Why or why not?
My incredible life was hard-fought, so no. I like the idea of being a big snake in a jungle or in a really hot place with great rock formations for a short time.
What emotional capabilities do you see animals having that humans may not, rather than the other way around? Any firsthand examples or observations?
Oh — bird songs. The chirps of different birds all together! Animals love who they are and their tasks with all of their being. Total commitment.
Finally, please describe a cloud to somebody who has never seen a cloud.
When you look up
There is a being from outer space
holding up an old phone
made of shapes
It will lift you up in spite of the ground
There is nothing there but particles
and yet every time they create a thunderhead
you know there is more than puffs
and usually so silent
Curated by: Morgan Enos
Conducted by: Email
Published: July 11, 2018
Total questions: 9
Word count: 1070
Reading time: Four minutes
ability, addition, animal, backpack, basket, cell phone, cellular, clogger, coat, color, composition, condition, delight, destruction, detail, diagonal, divine, drastic, example, existence, fallen, firsthand, formation, fragile, improvement, jungle, kitchen, leaf, lesson, Los Angeles, observation, outer space, painting, particle, perspective, puff, Raquel Bell, shadow, silence, silk, snake, thunderhead, transformation, village, walking, warp
About the curator
Morgan Enos is a songwriter and journalist originally from California. His curatorial work for North of the Internet aims to strike a deeper place in his conversation subjects — the dreamy subtext to the linear everyday. Morgan also frequently writes power pop records as Other Houses about joy, outer space, frustration, chess and spiritual light. He resides in New York, where he continues to creatively fire on all cylinders.
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