yes, she really paints with pepper spray...

yes, she really paints with pepper spray...

Rachel Herrick has a farm, E-I-E-I-O. And on her farm she makes some art, E-I-E-I-O. With an obeast here and an obeast there-- pepper spray, pepper spray, oh my eyes the pepper spray! Rachel Herrick has a farm, E-I-E-I-O.

Rachel is indeed a farmer and conceptual artist, but we know her best as VAE's Troublemaker-in-Chief! She heads up our Ignite learning programs (including the Ignite Creativity Summit), and spends much of her time innovating the way artists learn and work in the community.

Her VAE career started through volunteering; her humor, creativity and attention to detail made her a valuable part of the team and she was hired as VAE's exhibitions manager in 2006. In 2009, Rachel left VAE to attend graduate school at Maine College of Art, where she started making witty and challenging installation art and generally upping her game artistically. (fun fact: Rachel's undergraduate degree is in Creative Writing, for which she also attended graduate school, studying briefly with Stephen King)  We lured Rachel back into the VAE ranks in 2013, using her skills and experience to innovate new learning programs for our creative community.


  • Marketing
  • Making a creative spectacle
  • Writing (creative, grants, statements, resumes)




In 2010, Rachel sewed herself some colorful muumuus and began work on an art project that would take her on globe-trotting adventures. Her Museum for Obeast Conservation Studies (MOCS) satirizes the way that fat people (yes, that is the politically correct term) are perceived, discussed and treated in our culture. By using humor to poke at one of society's deepest biases, MOCS creates conversations and buzz wherever it's exhibited, which so far has been all throughout the US, and in Canada and Ireland. 

In 2015, Rachel started painting using police-grade pepper spray. She premiered this (unframed) series at Flanders Gallery in 2015, and a spicy good time was had by all.

FUNNY BUT TRUE: Rachel once pepper sprayed an art critic who was visiting her studio (ok, technically he pepper sprayed himself but she helped). Another time the Raleigh police thought Rachel's sculpture was a burglar and almost shot it for not complying with their commands.