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23 May Artist Spotlight: Asra Rae

When did you start your career in art? How long have you known you wanted to be an artist?

I was one of those kids that found what I loved and KNEW. I never stopped wanting to be an artist. I walked away from the corporate world when I graduated college and never looked back. I’ve been self-employed by my art since.

Describe your aesthetic in 3 words…

Deceptively-complex colorful portraitures.

Describe your artistic process and preparation?

When I first began this journey with Spectra I’d take an image that called to me and edit it to black and white. Then I’d use a computer program to help me assign numbers to the values by checking the tone on one spot vs another with an eyedrop tool (digital editing software tool) and label the entire piece accordingly after I drew out the spots of light I saw. These numerical values would determine the hue each blob was given and then I’d highlight and low light with contradictive colors both for visual interest and musical intonation.
Now that I’ve been doing this for a while, I don’t need to go through the process of flipping it to black and white. I can do it from life; I’m just familiar enough with the light to equate it to the value it would require solely with my mind’s eye. Of course, if I pursued “Spectra” on an academic-scientific path, I’d have to do it through programs and things to ensure I was getting a repeatable result, but for now exploring the interpretation of light in a personal way is enough for me.

Your favorite piece you’ve created to date and why?

“Spectra Carpet” would take this honor. It was the first piece I was ever moved by, and it, consequently, was my gateway to my “Spectra” work. When I first began I called them “Skittles” but I knew it couldn’t stick ‘cuz that name was already taken, ha ha. When I started to explore the science of sound I saw how interconnected it all was, so “Spectra” it was.

Who inspires you personally and/or professionally?

Gosh, I’m inspired by all that I see. I suppose if I have to choose people, it’d be those who do the small things that tend to go unnoticed like the people in the store who put the cart back in the stack, or stoop to throw away a piece of trash that had a moment ago been littering the sidewalk, people who see a mother of four young children struggling to carry her groceries while keeping her children with her and offer to help her out to her car, the people who will hold the door for longer than would normally be societally expected to ensure the man with the walker can lead his family unit from Sunday lunch…all these people are putting out such tiny rays of light into the world and I find it to be the most inspiring and beautiful of all.
Personally, if you want a specific person, you can thank my childhood best friend, ‘R’ for telling me how it was. As children, she was more innately talented with drawing than I. I told her one day how I hated drawing hands. She threw a book at my feet and said “then draw hands.” She’s the first one that taught me how to push through slumps and persevere and struggle with a piece- that it isn’t all “easy,” that sometimes…sometimes it isn’t fun or relaxing, sometimes it’s more exhausting than anything else we undertake, and that’s part of what makes it beautiful.

Biggest accomplishment to date?

I took “Best in Show” at my first art show (in college), I hadn’t even known there were prizes, so that was an incredible surprise.
But personally, my proudest moment was in high school: I was the “B” team’s captain and we were the only team at the Academic Decathlon to get all of our Super Quiz questions correct. We ended up taking home Gold and we were the first small high school to ever win the Academic Decathlon. It was a big deal, we were in the papers and everything.

Favorite location to create/what is your studio like?

I have this big old dumpster-dive-n-find table that I work on. The thing is covered in paint from previous projects years past. I love the thing.

A random fact about you?

The middle and ring fingers on my left hand are even.

One thing you couldn’t live without?


Your all-time favorite artist and/or your favorite emerging artist?

Oh, that’s a hard one…Nano Lopez, John Foster, Dallene Peralta, Andy Warhol, and Salvador Dali all hold places dear to my heart….I can’t choose!
Emerging artist…Ling Chun.

Name one goal for your career you’d like to achieve in the next 5 years?

I sent out the intentions this year to find a gallery that would represent me and to have my first solo show. I’ve always wanted to go large scale, but without the place to send them I was unwilling to try, so that became my goal. I’ve been collecting random things to try to make a “Spectra” work in for years…I would like to see at least a few of those pieces be realized- plastic bags, yarn, popsicle sticks, and other random thingamabobs.

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