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June 5, 2012 rayela


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When people ask me what I do, the easy answer is “I’m an artist.”  Rarely do they ask anything beyond that.  They may say, “Oh, how nice….”

Creative Entrepreneur has been used recently to describe people like me.  We have this weird marriage between business and creativity, always looking for ways to combine the two in new ways.  For me, this journey has centered on craft production and economic development.  The scope has narrowed specifically to textiles and fiber art since around 2000.

The short version of my path and influences:

  • 1962-1980: Raised in Brazil as the child of Lutheran missionaries.  (See Biels in Brazil).  Creative abundance everywhere, hippies making stuff, I sold t-shirts I painted at craft fairs by the time I was 15 years old.  People embroidered, painted, played guitar, carved.  A huge craft revival endorsed by the public.
  • 1980-1984: Learned to think critically through the paracollege (now defunct) of St. Olaf College.  Studied sociology, political science and religion.  Wanted to do art, but felt a lack of talent and a calling towards social responsibility.
  • 1984-2005: Chicago!  Worked in social service, sought relief through clay, became a business owner, sold on eBay, did art fairs, made stuff, found that I did have talent after all, made funky hats, fell in love with quilting.  Worked with small importers, met people from around the world and learned about their traditions.  Burned out on the city.
  • 2005-Current:  Paducah, Kentucky.  Became involved with local fiber artists, got serious about selling online, jumped into social media, connected to the world.  Launched TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List in 2010.
  • See my resume for the gruesome details.

I believe that all art is essential in order to create a healthy society.  Selling it is a conversation between the maker and the buyer.  It inspires, builds bridges, allows people to work at home and offers an alternative to the corporate world order.  Together, we can change the world and we knock down the bridges that divide us.  It is political, revolutionary, and I want to contribute to the effort.  My corner happens to focus on handmade textile traditions, but it’s all part of the larger whole.  We sing, dance, plant, color, and stomp our way to where the individual and the community can make a difference.


“We all belong.”  Collage and reverse painting on glass, Rachel Biel, 2009