Rachel Lechocki: Let Your Vision Protect You
When you walk into [blnk] haus in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, you’re greeted by a sincere feeling of home. It’s almost like returning to your best friend from high school’s house. It’s yours even though it technically isn’t. The sentiment behind it is the same, except here you’re surrounded by beautiful art pieces framing the brick walls, and a three-foot long dragon hanging out by the window.
[blnk] is, firstly, an art gallery of the urban contemporary type. Its walls display the works of multidisciplinary artists with a strong work ethic. The space also doubles as a yoga studio, and is home to events such as album release parties and dance classes.
“We want people to be comfortable around art. You can be here doing yoga, meditating, or working. We want people to engage in the art and other aspects of healing.”
Its co-founder, Rachel Lechocki is an art teacher, a yoga instructor and, of course, an artist. In 2017 she co-founded [blnk] with her partner Andrew Rehs, who is a counselor and sculptor. As they are planning the future of [blnk], they’re beginning to think about expanding the space to include a healing center in which clients could see Andrew, all the while engaging with the surrounding art.
Like many teachers in today’s America, Rachel is faced with a different kind of daily challenge. The arts, unfortunately, are still not recognized by many parents as a legitimate career focus. On top of that, some results of self-expression and revolt through the arts can be considered offensive, especially in today’s political climate. Magically, she is successfully managing to strike a beautiful balance of encouraging her students to push the boundaries in a respectful manner.
“You have to care to be able to inspire.”
Art leaves an impact. It speaks to people, but sometimes the timing is wrong and it can be unaffordable to some. Rachel shares the story of holding on to a piece for a woman who couldn’t afford it for months. This kind of understanding and compassion radiate through her and feed the air of the space. Quickly, it becomes clear Rachel’s impression is bigger than any words. To get it, you have to just stand across from her and bask in her spirit.
“What’s really important to me is to get people to value the arts more and take it seriously as a career goal or job. It’s so much easier sometimes to give up than to keep going, and you have to really be there mentally and be so committed. You just have to hold on to the little things.”
Rachel is a perfect example of a successful career in the arts, or some of the many roads that one can take. The art she makes is centered on storytelling through women and fine line.
“My style has turned into telling stories about women, but only through line and their expression, or color. Without having to go way into detail. It’s the restriction of the line while still keeping the expression people can relate to, and adding the looseness of color.”
Reflecting on the lessons she learned from art and owning a gallery, Rachel talks about the importance of relationships. That’s something we can all relate to.
“Having really healthy relationships. I don’t think I understood when I was younger how important they are, and the work that goes into relationships is probably the best work you can invest.”
She considers that important in all aspects of her life: from her students to the artists she showcases. And her advice to both? Have a vision.
“Everything has to connect and align with your vision. That vision is strong and will protect you.”
You can find Rachel and [blnk] on Instagram: @raylahockey @_blnkhaus