Welcoming Rachel Up North

By: Rachel Hausmann Schall, curator of education on August 25th, 2021

Purchases from thrift stores often come with interesting stories. I’ve always been fascinated by antiques and their unique lineage. Each object or relic radiates a certain aura; they hold intriguing origin stories that are riddled with questions about past provenances. When thrifting, I often ask myself “Who owned this? Where was it purchased? Is it hand-crafted? When was it made? Is it mass-produced? Why would someone buy this?” Pondering these thoughts during thrifting trips is one of my favorite pastimes, along with picking up vintage Wisconsin brewery ephemera – like retro beer trays.

Rachel Hausmann Schall, photo by Richard Wunsch

Thrifted t-shirt found in Manawa, Wisconsin

As I am quite excited to begin my position at the Woodson Art Museum as a Curator of Education on September 1, I can’t help but think of one of my favorite thrifted t-shirts while my husband and I begin to pack our belongings to make our big move north to Wausau from southeastern Wisconsin. The shirt is one I picked up during a camping trip in Manawa in 2019 and states “Don’t bother me, I’m ROUGHING IT in UP NORTH Wisconsin” with an image of a sleeping figure in a hammock perched between two trees. With the impending move, this shirt has become more of a mantra and a cherished, thrifted favorite. It’s also leading me into the next chapter of life “up north.” And although not every “Wausaunian” will agree, Wausau is certainly “up north” to me.

When I’m Not Thinking, 2021, digital collage, on view at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago

I am a born and bred Wisconsinite and have lived near Milwaukee my entire life. I graduated in 2015 with my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, where I studied painting, drawing, and sculpture. Afterward, I worked an array of jobs while maintaining my studio practice as a fine artist, co-founding an artist collective, and participating actively in the Milwaukee art community through organizing art events, exhibiting my artwork, and becoming an arts writer. Eventually, I found my way into K-12 education and was fortunate to teach at Pius XI High School, a private school in Milwaukee with a nationally renowned art program. I am eager to begin my work at the Woodson and continue enriching lives through art education. Joining the Museum staff, learning more about the Wausau community, interacting with our exhibitions, and getting to know our visitors are all things I’m looking forward to.

Installation image from solo exhibition “Affix & Repeat” at The Real Tinsel in Milwaukee, photo by docmyart/Cristina Ossers

While I know I’ll be quite busy in my new position, I am excited to transport my artistic practice to new surroundings and continue to make and show my work as well as write about art. In fact, one of my latest collage pieces is included in the group exhibition “Moments Like This” at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, which opens on August 26.

Somehow, I feel like this vintage t-shirt found me and predicted my next move in life (literally). I look forward to meeting you at the Museum during this year’s Birds in Art, a future exhibition, or perhaps just around town.

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