Rachel Brainerd is a Hudson Valley-based artist and activist. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Visual Arts, and a Minor in Psychology at the State University of New York at New Paltz in December, 2020. Brainerd graduated as Valedictorian, and was selected as an Outstanding Graduate by the Honors Department and Fine & Performing Art Department. She was inducted into the Psi Chi International Psychology Honor Program in November, 2020. Brainerd was awarded the Dr. Crawford ‘58 ‘62g and Gluckman Scholarship, and the Ruth Bennet and Doris Stoddard ‘56 Art Scholarship for the 2019-2020 school year. She is proficient across various mediums, including ceramics, oil-painting,and figure drawing; but is devoted to her exploration of metalsmithing.
Brainerd’s senior thesis works in metal were exhibited online in Inner Visions, November, 2020, through SUNY New Paltz, and her Honors thesis research paper was presented and archived online in the Sojourner Truth Library in December, 2020. Her works have been shown in the NYC Jewelry Week, Denizen, from November 16th to the 22nd, 2020. Brainerd was awarded the American Visions Nominee, Gold portfolio, Silver portfolio, and multiple gold and silver key pieces in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards in 2017, exhibited at SUNY New Paltz. She was the first place recipient of The Big Read Poughkeepsie Library contest in 2016.
Brainerd has dedicated her senior year to the research of art therapy used to offer healing for refugees suffering from psychological trauma. Brainerd’s metalworks further investigate the various symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder through wearable, interactive forms. Brainerd actively volunteers in her community through non-profit organizations that serve vulnerable populations, including the homeless, mentally ill, and at-risk youth. She has helped design, execute, and donate multiple murals alongside The Art Effect, and on her own. These are located at the Dutchess County SPCA, the Children's Home in Poughkeepsie, the street mural on Pershing Avenue, and in the Day Habilitation room at New Horizons Resources Inc. Brainerd plans to pursue a Master’s degree and become licensed as a Registered Art Therapist (ATR-BC).