Rae Koenig

BFA ’20 Painting and Drawing, Ceramics

Rae Koenig is a painter, ceramicist, writer, and aspiring installation artist whose work deals with ideas of memory, spirituality, and connection to self. She utilizes traditional methods of painting with oils in tandem with ceramic sculpture and mixed media pieces in order to create spaces of reflection and contemplation for her viewers. Her hope is to encourage others through the telling of her personal experiences.
Artist Statement
This installation represents a journey that is familiar to many people; the despair, hopelessness, or heartbreak that we experience during our lives. Painful scenarios are unavoidable and all too often we ‘give in’ to overwhelming emotions, allowing them to determine our self-esteem and sense of worth. The resulting fear, confusion, and apathy may become the dominant feelings in which we live day to day. My own journey with trauma and mental illness has served as the inspiration for
the creation of this body of work, as well as the role that faith and spirituality have played in my healing process.

In Greek, there is a word, parousia, that directly translates in English to the active verb of “being present.” Being present is a choice that I have to make every day, one that is made increasingly difficult as the chaos of the world around and within me grows. For me, being present has manifested through my faith in a higher power—in the belief that my life has greater purpose than my present moment. This belief has pulled me through my darkest days. I choose to grasp hold of my faith which moves me forward not easily, but eventually.

To represent the idea of presence and faith being an active choice, I have chosen to use the symbol of the red string. This symbol has been used in many cultures to convey the idea of connectedness between two beings. This could be interpreted as a connection between two people, or a connection between a person and the world around them. For me, this red string represents the connection between myself and my faith. The string is strong, woven out of multiple smaller strands—it cannot be broken unless physically cut. The string is fluid—it moves with one and can be used to weave and create new things. This strength and movement suggests my spiritual journey. It changes as I grow and change, but it never breaks.

I hope to communicate through this body of work that faith in something does not just happen. Being present or having faith are active choices that I make every day. It is a lifeline that is available, but it can only help me if I reach out and take hold of it.


Bad Body Double, 2020

oil on canvas panel


Taming the Mind, 2020

oil on canvas panel


The Importants-, 2020

string, carved ceramics


The Torpid Burial, 2020

oil on canvas panel


Visitation, 2020

oil on canvas panel


No Hiding from Self, 2020

string, carved ceramics


Hope Is in the Waiting, 2019

oil on canvas panel


On Speaking. Monument, 2020

string, carved ceramics, embroidered found object


The Position of Presence, 2020

high-fired ceramics, string, cloth


The Position of Presence (detail), 2020

high-fired ceramics, string, cloth



The Importants—

If you see me as I am
……………then who am I to you?
Where does my grace become
……………a spattering of excuses,
……………my gentleness a weakness?
When does my anger at injustice
……………become petty, crude, unjustified?
Is my inner search still life-giving
……………or has it always been self-loathing?
These lines are fine
……………as the smallest of threads
Life happens in the gray spaces
……………and these grays are precarious, precious—
……………an impossible tightrope with the greatest reward.

No Hiding from Self

There is a raw, visceral existence in being alone. Confrontation is inevitable and inescapable. With every push of ignorance release takes another firm step closer. The unraveling is slow to begin but soon becomes unmatched in its speed of decay, bringing fear and self doubt with it. How long can you expect to hold up this threadbare covering? The release must be welcomed, for only after the unraveling can you begin to. build again, restitching and weaving a new garment—not a covering, but an adornment. There can be no more hiding past this moment. Only transparency.

On Speaking.

A whisper is quiet power.
Only a soft voice can ease the highest tension.
Only a whisper can draw one close.
You speak in whispers, fearing nothing—knowing that only whispers can heal shattered, aching souls.

Virtual Exhibition Tour
Video Documentation