Space of the Week: Appalachian Dreams

When he was a boy, artist Eric Rhein spent his summers in Kentucky’s Appalachian mountains. His nature-inspired art and the earthy, mission-revival style of his East Village apartment are surely inspired by his youthful outdoor adventures. Here’s a pair of cotton-velvet curtains, handmade by his mother. A wood-and-steel cabinet showcases the various treasures he has collected over the years. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Here’s two more recent creations, silver gelatin prints, derived from turn-of-the-century photographs embellished with found objects. They are displayed on top of an old kitchen cabinet. Photo: Wendy Goodman

These wire drawings are part of a work called Leaves that pays tribute to the friends he has lost to AIDS-related illness. Rhein also made the sculpture using suede, leather, and brocade. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The décor references his Kentucky roots (his mother grew up in Appalachia). Rhein’s parents were “hippie professors”: His father made ceramics and taught art education; his mother was a teacher. Rhein’s great-grandmother crafted this quilt out of the worn fragments of her husband’s suits. According to family legend, she gave birth to all her eleven children with the quilt over her! Photo: Wendy Goodman

This is from Rhein’s series of hummingbird wire drawings; they were framed in Brooklyn. There’s an installation of similar pieces at the NoMad Hotel in New York. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The bedroom walls are decorated with watercolors by Mats Gustafson. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Rhein has been working on a series of self-portraits since the early nineties. This silver-gelatin print on fiber paper is from 2010. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Rhein made this “autumn box” as a birthday gift for the late William Weichert. He pieced it together using antique kimono fabric and assorted hardware culled from flea markets in Paris and Japan. When Weichert passed away, his sister returned it to Rhein. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Here’s Rhein at work. His practice has evolved over the years from wearable art to sculptures and his signature “wire drawings.” Photo: Wendy Goodman

Rhein works on larger projects from his studio in Long Island City. Photo: Wendy Goodman

This is another of Rhein’s ongoing projects. It’s named for “Song of the Open Road,” from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. “My late uncle, Lige Clarke, was a formative pioneer in the gay-rights movement of the late sixties and seventies. He always carried a volume of Leaves of Grass with him. His devotion to advocacy has been an influence in my life,” says Rhein. Photo: Wendy Goodman

This is a piece Rhein created in the late eighties for an exhibition in New York. It is made of wire, Japanese fabric, suede, and appropriated objects. Photo: Courtesy of Eric Rhein

Space of the Week: Appalachian Dreams