Meet Rachel Hanson. Rachel works in the City of Lafayette’s Department of Arts and Cultural Resources. She is a founding member of ARTS!Lafayette and served on the Public Art Committee from 2008 – 2012, having held the offices of secretary, vice chair, and chair during her tenure. She was also part of the team which developed the Art on the Street Curriculum which connects public art to students in local schools. Rachel is a multi-media collage and jewelry artist in her home studio.
Rachel and her family reside in Lafayette in the house she grew up in, that is on the national and local historic registries – built in 1890 as a boarding house. Rachel, your longevity and partnership to the community is a tremendous asset and genuinely appreciated.
Q: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
A: I grew up in an arts-oriented family, both of my parents were art teachers. But, art was not the path that I originally chose. I ended up going to college studying literature and a became a teacher as my first career. After we had kids I decided to stay home for a while. I then started volunteering with the arts in Lafayette as a member of The Public Art Committee, with a part time job to work on the newsletter. After several years the department grew and I had a half-time position at that point. Then the city decided to invest in the arts, creating The Collective Community Arts Center. This will be our 3rd anniversary in January, and I’ve now been full time with the department for two years.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Louisville and Lafayette, and what do you love there?
A: A restaurant that’s been around for a long time is 95A. It’s a reliable, high quality restaurant. I also like the new things that are coming to town like Community, which is probably my favorite “newer” restaurant.
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Louisville and Lafayette?
A: I moved to Lafayette in 1978 when I was in elementary school.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: I think I want to go to Iceland. My friends who have gone say it’s beautiful. It’s a different type of destination.
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: Two things come to mind. Be kind to people around you because you never know what their story is. The other is to surround yourself with beautiful things, to incorporate or infuse art in your life where you can, with things that make you happy.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: Travel to Iceland and Alaska.
Q: What is your favorite music/ 3 bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?
A: I love the Beatles. I would like to see Nathaniel Rateliff and U2.
Q: What current / former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Louisville and Lafayette?
A: The Lafayette Florist has longevity and is a family run business. They are a family that has been a part of the community for many generations with a beautiful and difficult story. I believe they were Japanese immigrants that started out with a small stand and have had to adapt and change over the years. The other business I would mention are the mercados, the Mexican markets in town, where you can find things like a butcher counter, Mexican candies, and fresh avocados. Those two businesses are special to me.
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Louisville and Lafayette?
A: I think Lafayette is interesting on a community level because I feel that there is a longevity of families who have stayed in Lafayette from generation to generation. I think Lafayette still has that small town feel that is lost to other communities. When you run into the “old timers” they know who lived in which house. People know each other here…we’re neighbors, we go to school together, we shop together. I feel that the city is doing a good job in trying to maintain a cohesive community feel with various programs, activities, and inviting people to a meeting or doing surveys to ask them what they think.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
A: I hope to stay involved in continuing Lafayette as an artful community.
Q: (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: I actually like to run meetings and I’m pretty decent at it. I make sure things move along and that they are productive.
***During the interview a complimentary statement was added –
“She is an amazing and fabulous person. She has terrific skills in being organized, working with the public, and very good in graphic design. I am so fortunate to work with her” – Susan Booker, Director of the Department of Arts and Cultural Resources
Q: What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: Family, Heart, and my Kitchen.
Q: If you had a full time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose?
Chef, Housekeeper, Driver, Coach, Physical Fitness Trainer, or Nanny?
A: A housekeeper to do the laundry and cleaning, or maybe a gardener – that would be great. I would love to be a gardener, but I’m not a gardener!
Q: Is there something that you can add that would benefit or add value to the community, what do you think would that be?
A: If there is something that I could instantly add to the community of Lafayette, it would be a perfect location for a larger art center with more full time staff. The larger space would be able to offer a theatre space, dedicated art galleries, office space, a teaching room, storage space for supplies, and meeting room.