2023 Raquel Caballero

Creative in Residence
3rd March, 2023 - 1st September, 2023

Our 2023 Creative in Residence Raquel Caballero created The Totem Towers. They are informed and inspired by the visual imagery found in the Library’s book collection.  

Situated in the Library’s light-filled reading room, they are a celebration of vernacular architecture and the radical aesthetics of the decorative art environments of self-taught artists. As such, Raquel’s work follows a folk tradition of artmaking that is organic, personal, unrestrained, and uncontained by the white cube of the formal gallery.  

Made of papier-mâché using recycled materials and brightly painted, The Totem Towers are monuments to what Raquel calls "hardcore craft" – that is, a worship of, and obsessive dedication to the handmade, using unconventional mediums. By working with papier-mâché, the artist intends to show the endless possibilities of building with economical materials, to create art that’s universal. 

In today’s trend toward cityscapes devoid of colour and a human touch, The Totem Towers are anti-high tech, fun, fanciful follies that transmit joy, and awe triggered by the viewer’s awareness of the cosmic potentials of the imagination. 

Raquel’s practice is rooted in her fascination with the excesses found in popular and folk cultures. She is also inspired by maximalist and amateur aesthetics. Working primarily with papier-mâché, textiles, and recycled materials, she makes objects of reverence that celebrate human-made fantasies and follies with 'traditional crafts'. 

Raquel Caballero is an artist with a thriving studio practice at Our Neon Foe, an Inner West artist-run gallery and studio space. By day Raquel is a Librarian at the Australian, Film, Television & Radio School Library (AFTRS) where she creates mammoth sets from concept to creation to install. Not to mention Raquel also runs a rare books business with her best friend and fellow artist, Emily Hunt, trading in hard-to-find books on the arts, counterculture, and the occult.  

During the residency Raquel will invite students to engage with her creative process, ask them to consider what makes them curious, and help them create their own collage art piece, using UTS Library’s  Special Collections. 

The artist will be on-site at UTS Library, level 7, (most) Fridays from the 3rd of March – the 28th of July 10 am-4 pm.