Looks: Academy

ACADEMY is a multidisciplinary project by artist and designer Rachel Albright. Founded in 2010, this ever-evolving line turns to form and functionality, creating wearable sculptural jewelry and other artful objects.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I grew up in rural Virginia and spent 10 years in Richmond, Va before recently relocating to Philadelphia. I studied art and art history and it still is my biggest influence. Academy is my line of jewelry, objects, and home goods, but I do many other things as well, from creating content for different brands to developing art spaces and contributing to publications, gallery shows, and websites.

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Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? This is a tough one – my reading list is out of control! Currently, sightunseen.combulletmedia.comnowness.com.

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What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? It’s always art and design. In recent years, large scale sculpture and environmental art. Very recently, Cy Twombly, Helen Frankenthaler, fiber art, and kids’ drawings.

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What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I just exhibited with Medium Cool in Chicago and was really happy to be a part of it. I’m about to release my fall collection—my favorite yet!—and I’m very excited about the photography collaboration for the lookbook. Also, many new collaborations coming for spring 2015 with a roster of female artists. Stay tuned!

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What designers are you interested in right now? So many! Kowtow is really interesting, Creatures of Comfort, Toc Studio, Ladies & Gentleman Studio, Fort Standard, Iko Iko & Building Block. I’ve been shopping mostly Rachel Comey clothing.

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Tell us about your work process and how it develops. I think I do an equal amount of observing and planning and working with my hands. Many times I have a very clear direction when it comes to color palette, shape & proportion, but it’s not until I sit down and experiment, work it out with my hands until it really comes together. There’s a lot of trial and error. I’m still learning, really!

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How long have you lived in Philadelphia and what brought you there? I’ve lived in Philadelphia for about 6 months, and was in Richmond, Virginia for 10 years prior. Quite honestly, a job brought me here! I had a gigantic opportunity and I jumped on it, and I haven’t looked back. 

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What do you want a viewer to walk away with after experiencing your work? Eventually, I would like for my work to be viewed as art rather than accessory—I’m not quite there yet, but working towards it. In the meantime, I try for each of my pieces to be a bit unexpected. I’d like for people to think about them a little bit, to consider the colors, shapes, proportions, the combination of art and style when worn.

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What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? This is very, very hard to answer. I can narrow it down to a few: The Prado in Madrid, the Cy Twombly room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, anywhere with tacos and friends.

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Cy Twombly Room at Philadelphia Museum of Art

Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? The worst is probably “why would I pay x amount for clay beads on a string” which bums me out for all small designers and businesses, really. Many people still don’t seem to understand the process behind it: that someone dreamed up this piece, sat down and made every single part of it, putting so much of themsleves into. That it came from their brain and their hands, their valuable time and energy, and that’s worth something.