Rachel Selekman, born in Boston, Massachusetts, and raised in a suburb of Philadelphia, has made art since she was a child. Having had a strong and inspiring early art education, she chose to continue her studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, from which she received a BFA in 1985. She returned to Philadelphia after college to work at Dolan/Maxwell Gallery and to begin her professional life as an artist. During this time, she made drawings, collages, and mixed-media constructions.
In 1988, Selekman moved to New York City to become director of Dolan/Maxwell's New York gallery. There, deeply immersed in the contemporary art world, she continued to pursue her own artwork. She moved to Chicago in 1991 to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, from which she received a full-tuition scholarship for graduate study.
In graduate school, Selekman's work became more sculptural. Experimenting with a wide variety of media, including cement, latex rubber, and fabric, she explored issues related to women's lives in general and her life in particular, subject matter that she continues to investigate today. She also first incorporated the pocketbook in her sculptures in grad school, an object that would be the foundation of much of her work for more than a decade.
In 1993, MFA in hand, Selekman moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she still lives and works. While she hasn't used pocketbooks for many years, the watering can, which she has altered and combined with mixed media since the late 1990s, remains a potent form in much of her sculpture. She also continues to create related mixed-media works on paper.
Selekman has exhibited her work regularly since 1985. She has had solo shows at A.I.R. Gallery, New York City (1992); KAOS-Galerie, Cologne, Germany (1996); the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington (2001); Priska C. Juschka Fine Art, New York City (2003, 2004, 2006); and Galerie Aurel Scheibler, Cologne, Germany (2005). Her work has also been included in many national and international group exhibitions, including shows at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria; Wave Hill, New York City; Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs, New York City; Museo d'Arte Universidad Nacional, Bogota, Columbia; Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, Virginia Beach; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; MOMENTA Art Alternatives, Philadelphia; and Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia.
Selekman's work is in many public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art, Vienna, Austria; and General Electric, Fairfield, Connecticut. She is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant (1997), a Henry Street Settlement Residency (2007), and a New York Foundation for the Arts Artist as Entrepreneur Boot Camp grant (2010). Reviews of her work have appeared in ArtNews, The New York Times, Fiber Arts, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, Artnet.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Art Matters, among other publications.