By NOAH BECKER September, 2020
Rachel Vancelette has been working with over 80 contemporary artists and making jigsaw puzzles based on their works.
I spoke to her about ARTSXPUZZLES: Puzzles with Purpose and its fundraising efforts during Covid-19. All puzzles produced by Art X Puzzles: Puzzles with Purpose for the benefit of COVID-19 Artist Relief, Black Lives Matter and First Responders Children’s Relief Fund.
Noah Becker: When did you get the idea to make artist puzzles?
Rachel Vancelette: In May of this year, Covid-19 cases were growing at an alarming rate and funds were desperately needed for relief efforts worldwide. I was one day inspired by the idea of reconnecting with contemporary artists knowing that their studio funds were dwindling as galleries began to close. Exhibitions and museums shows were being canceled, so with this dire news and many artists struggling, it was time for action. I knew jigsaw puzzles were a way to bring community, friends and families together and that there are thousands of ardent puzzlers out there waiting for new puzzles daily. My idea was to give this bigger audience a chance for a deeper understanding and appreciation for contemporary art. The nuances of brilliant contemporary work become clearer as one sits quietly rebuilding the jigsaw puzzle artwork.
NB: How many artists are participating in the fundraiser?
RV: At this time, ARTSXPUZZLES: Puzzles with Purpose has launched over 80 international contemporary artists and we have a growing number of new artists who will be joining the ongoing project into the 2020 holiday season and beyond.
NB: Have you ever finished a jigsaw puzzle?
RV: Yes, remembering the joy I had as a child sitting with very big wooden jigsaw puzzle pieces made it easy to sit down once again and join the growing army of puzzlers around the country and the world who are staying home during Covid-19 and puzzling away.
NB: My mom loves puzzles and I plan to buy one of your puzzles for her. Do you have a favorite puzzle in the series?
RV: My mother also loves puzzles and says it is a peaceful experience where the mind can rest from outside worries. Picking a favorite puzzle is like picking your favorite color, all loved for different and special reasons. I could pick a favorite Contemporary Collector Jigsaw Edition today, but trust me tomorrow would be a different choice and every day after that would also change, as I actually love them all for different reasons.
NB: Tell me about the duration of the puzzles project and what future plans you have?
RV: I have many, many ideas about how to expand into other areas but right now my focus is staying on the success of this relief effort, which I see going far into the future, always with charity contributions in minds. Hopefully, Covid-19 will be a memory one day, but organizations such as First Responder Children’s Foundation, Artist Relief and several other important charitable relief efforts for our world at large will always be in need. WM
Noah Becker is an artist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine. He shows his paintings internationally at museums and galleries. Becker also plays jazz saxophone. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010). Becker's new album of original music "Mode For Noah" was released in 2023.
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