Rachel Compart offers no illusions about the works in her exhibit at the Arts Center of St. Peter.
As a mother, artist and teacher — Compart is an adjunct art faculty at Minnesota State University as well as an art teacher for after-school programs — she characterizes her life as both routine and rewarding. Her art reflects that satisfaction in its presentation of domestic life in delightfully un-tortured and identifiable terms.
"I don't have an exciting life," Compart said. "I just embrace what I have. ... I could go on and on about how happy I am."
Included in the exhibit — which is titled "Same Face, Different Place" and runs concurrently with an exhibit of photographs by Laurie Zallek Knight through July 13 — is a series of works inspired by laundry baskets.
Through the use of color and shape, Compart weaves complexity and spontaneity into a domestic task that is otherwise rote and predictable. In another series of paintings that begin as still-life representations of pieces of cloth that have been crumpled on the floor, Compart imbues her subject with flourishes of unexpected color and line, outfitting the original cloth in new and fantastic forms.
Taken cumulatively, the works convey a sense of appreciation, and perhaps even pride and wonder, in household tasks rarely portrayed as artistic exercises.
"A laundry basket can say a lot about someone," she said. "And, a basket is sort of symbolic for holding it all together."
Furthermore, Compart said, the laundry basket series served as a sort of exploration for the emotive power of color, a subject she investigated in more depth for a portrait series that is also included in the exhibit.
In a trio of works that Compart collectively calls "Self Portrait, Equal Parts," the artist employs a field of solid color, enhanced only by subtle texture on the canvas, to serve as a self-portrait for herself, mother and father.