Rachel Schneider earned her BFA in Sculpture + Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013, and her Master in Landscape Architecture (MLA I) from Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2016. She is currently a landscape designer at Rhodeside and Harwell in Alexandria, Virginia. Her sculpture studio practice and research focuses on topics of memory, materiality, and storytelling. Her interest in landscape architecture comes from a passion for place-making and creating culturally relevant environments.
What have you been up to since graduating from VCU?
I am working towards a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. I spent last summer working for the Charles River Watershed Association, and this summer I am doing an internship with a firm in Washington, DC called Oehme van Sweden. I’ve got one more year of graduate school; I spend a lot of time in front of the computer doing CAD and 3-D modeling, and lots of conceptual landscape projects and drawings in my studio classes.
What advice would you give a current VCU Sculpture student?
Don’t get caught up in the studio politics, have people help you photograph your work, build relationships with your instructors, explore Richmond’s many beauty supply stores (boxes of plastic hands?), spend a lot less time/money at Lowes, but when you are there look for William. Take time to get to know the people who work near you. Don’t stay up all night. Don’t let anyone give you shit about not being able to lift a bag of concrete by yourself.
How did VCU prepare you for your current situation?
VCU helped me prepare a great portfolio, which I used to apply to graduate schools, and gave me the skills and confidence to make almost anything and the ability to talk about it. It created an environment where I was able to have really good conversations about my work with my peers and my instructors. Also, many of the readings we’ve been assigned in my theories of landscape class I had already read in Kendall Buster’s seminar class. It feels great to have some familiarity with the topics when I feel in over my head at grad school.
How do you define success?
When someone who you really admire contacts you and says, “I would really love to collaborate with you. I don’t want to graduate without working on a project together with you.”
Why did you decide to study sculpture?
I took a sculpture class my third semester and that class was my favorite that I had taken at VCU. I realized I really wanted to be making things and we learned so much in that first semester, woodworking, welding, casting. I’ve always been interested in materials and with the flexibility of the media, the amazing instructors, and the school’s reputation, I felt like the decision could set me up to do a lot more. So I switched majors to Sculpture, and I think it was the best choice I’ve made to date.