“If we don’t act on the climate crisis quickly, these incredibly wild and beautiful places will not be around for much longer, which is why CVI’s work to advance conservation policies through legislation is so important.”
Garden City, Idaho – As she etches the outline of her Climate Action mural into the side of Coiled Wines’ building, abstract artist Lorelle Rau reflects fondly on a childhood that encouraged her artistic talents. Her mother, a talented sculptor juggling a burgeoning art career and raising three children, is a clear inspiration for Lorelle’s work. Ultimately, her mother’s influence led her here, to Garden City, to use her talents as an abstract artist to express the value of Idaho’s natural spaces.
“I remember sitting in her studio late at night sketching while she molded clay into these large free form slab sculptures. I was introduced to art because of her, but as an adult I think my motivation to succeed as an artist comes from her,” Lorelle says.
But despite a childhood inspired and surrounded by the arts, Lorelle’s original career goals didn’t include her own art; her initial direction skewed towards supporting other artists rather than working as one herself. Lorelle earned a Masters in Arts Administration from the Savannah College of Art and Design; a BA in Studio Art, and a BS in Arts Management from Appalachian State University in North Carolina. This line of education prepared her for the world of art management and appreciation of others’ works, with practical business skills such as curation, exhibition planning, and gallery management.
“When I was younger, I always imagined that I would be working behind the scenes, managing an art gallery, non-profit organization, and promoting other artists.” she says. “However, as a creative person who loves making things, I found it impossible not to create.”
It wasn’t until two years out of college that Lorelle began pushing the boundary between art as a hobby and art as a source of income. She was working for the Corcoran Gallery of Art/College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. when she sold her first piece. But even then, the transition to full-time “career artist” was a lengthy one.
“I didn’t begin pursuing a career as a working artist until I moved to Boise in 2016. I was so inspired by the diverse landscape and topography of the area,” Lorelle says. “Once I discovered my voice and my style, I became addicted to the process and was excited to develop my work further.”
Fast forward to May 2022, Lorelle was invited to participate in the Garden City Climate Action Art Walk, to use her voice and artistry to convey the crucial message that federal climate action is necessary to protect the places in Idaho we live and love. The Garden City Placemaking Fund provided the opportunity for Lorelle to challenge herself with a project that was new in scale and medium: a public facing mural, over 15 feet tall.
“I always wanted to paint a large mural that depicted a colorful abstract landscape,” she says. “Abstract work that emphasizes form, color, line, and texture is of most interest to me because there are so many ambiguities in the world today.”
Her inspiration for the mural, which is on display at Coiled Wines on Chinden Boulevard, came from the beauty of Idaho’s mountains, which Lorelle hikes regularly.
“When I am not creating artwork, I spend my days in the backcountry. I hike to find beauty and reconnect with myself and the people I’m with. Hiking reminds me of the vastness of the world and that now more than ever we need to protect and maintain it.”
Lorelle’s mural references the mountains of south-central Idaho, including the Boise, Sawtooth, and Soldier mountains in early spring, using a color palette that represents the many forms of the landscape; snowy peaks, yellow and gold foothills, and the blue waterways Idahoans treasure for their beauty as well as their recreation. Like the painting, all of these components influence each other and interact as one single form, where impacts travel in growing waves from bottom to top and back again.
“When creating this mural, I was thinking about the Boise River, the springtime runoff from melting snow in the mountains, the snowpack and the movement of water,” Lorelle says.
Through the process of designing and creating the mural on Coiled Wines, Lorelle reflected on the impacts of our changing climate on her sacred spaces; drought, population growth, changing land use, and more continue to put Idaho’s natural resources and wonders at risk of damage, or even of complete loss.
“If we don’t act on the climate crisis quickly, these incredibly wild and beautiful places will not be around for much longer, which is why CVI’s work to advance conservation policies through legislation is so important,” Lorelle says. “Art is a powerful tool for inspiration, and I hope my mural not only inspires but also encourages people to act. A collective group of people taking these actions will certainly make a difference.”
To see more of Lorelle’s work, visit her website at lorellerau.com, or her Instagram, @lorelleraustudios. Her work is also on display at the Capitol Contemporary Gallery in downtown Boise and The Art Spirit Gallery in Coeur d’Alene.
To learn more about the Climate Action Art Walk, click here.