About the Artist


Rachel Brumer

Northwest fiber artist Rachel Brumer is renowned for her rich layering of textures, and ever evolving language of shapes. Utilizing Van Dyke printed photography, thread, ink, dye, and wax, Brumer rubs, embroiders, silkscreens, drips, quilts, draws, and appliques. Her work in fiber began as a vehicle to commemorate a friend lost to AIDs, the medium and process serving as a way to involve loved ones of the departed.  Community and remembrance remain motivating forces behind Brumer’s intricate fiber work.

Born in Oakland, California, Brumer graduated from Mills College with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, and worked as a professional dancer in Oakland, Seattle and New York, including a short stint with Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Upon retirement from dance, she went back to school and studied American Sign Language and holds a degree from Seattle Central Community College in Interpreting.

Her artwork is in public collections around the country including the Seattle Art Museum, the Tacoma Art Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design, Harborview Hospital, Swedish Hospital, Legacy Emanuel Hospital, the University of Washington Special Collections, the King County Art Collection and the Seattle Arts Commission, including others. Brumer’s awards include, Fiberart International, Quilt Visions, Artist Trust Fellowship and Gap Awards and Quilt National. She was also awarded a residency at Jentel, Banner, Wyoming. Teaching experience includes two residencies at Mission Creek Correctional Facility in Belfair, Washington and the Seattle Public Schools.



Artist Statement


I have had three nonverbal careers. My creative life began as a professional modern dancer. I received a BFA from Mills College with an interdisciplinary degree. After an additional degree I became an interpreter for American Sign Language, and now have been working as a visual artist for the past 18 years. Dance may seem an unlikely form of training for the visual artist, but ideas in the two disciplines are handled in surprisingly similar ways. Working with performance luminaries like Robert Wilson, Philip Glass, Lucinda Childs, and Mark Morris had a profound influence on my visual work. Sign language also looks at 3 dimensional space in dynamic ways useful to developing a visual vocabulary.

My present work is fiber based. The experience of cloth is universal as we are in constant contact with cloth, whether it is covering our bodies, used in sacred ritual, or looking at a flag. That said, some of my work uses elements of installation art, mixed media, photography, printmaking, embroidery, collage, light, and community based art. I am interested in challenging and expanding the boundaries of what has existed before in the sphere of quilt making.  

I continue to be passionate about translating ideas of life into visual representations. I want to create work with a personal vocabulary of images that has a strong metaphoric potential for all people.


Most landscapes refer to particular geographic locations – my landscapes do not. Rather, they are fragments of nature and human existence, recomposed as scenes that reveal the layers of association that mind and memory build. Thus, an arc of earth may hold continents of flowers, rich soil, and an extended hand.

I began this body of work a few years ago when I moved to a 14-mile long island in the Pacific Northwest. There, I see the edge of the earth every day. In these works, I cover continents with gold paint and then scratch the gilded surfaces. The marks suggest scars, migration paths, and the routes that humans and animals trace as part of their everyday activities.

The collage elements are made using a variety of surface design techniques, materials, and mark-making to create tension among those elements. I use walnut ink, dried pigment, dyes and paints, the Vandyke photo process, and thread. I also use a reverse printmaking discharge technique, specifically for fiber, which leaves a skeleton image of the object placed on the surface.

By altering the scale of the elements in these scenes, I want to illuminate the complex relationships between humans and the earth and the ways in which we are reshaping nature. I also hope to encourage us all to see, understand, and act to protect the earth.