Meet the 12th grader who we're pretty sure is going to be in art textbooks one day

18-year-old Rachel Burns break down the intricate process that goes into her work — and incorporates years of her memories and family history.

18-year-old artist Rachel Burns opens up about family history, making art and graduating high school

(CBC Arts)

Rachel Burns is just about to graduate from the Etobicoke School of the Arts, and it's been a pretty packed year for her. She had her first solo show at Toronto's General Hardware Contemporary, she's been written about in a bunch of publications and she was awarded a cumulative cool $2.2 million in scholarships from the 38 art schools she applied to.

In short, she's busy.

So we were glad to catch up with her and hear her break down the intricate process that goes into her seemingly abstract work — and incorporates years of her memories and family history.

Watch the video:

18-year-old artist Rachel Burns

5 years ago
Duration 5:02
Rachel Burns on transforming family history into art, graduating from high school and how she managed to get $2.2 million in scholarships.

In this video made by ISTOICA, you get to hang out with Burns in her home studio and at school during her last days there. And you get to find out how stacks of her family's photographs have been transmuted into her shimmering art works — as the artist notes, "Every family has their own history and they have ups and down moments. And I think that going through all of those moments and all that energy spent together really is what I base a lot of my work from."

Now that she's decided on OCAD as her destination of choice, we're excited to see what Burns is going to do next. You can follow her here — and be ready to see much more in the future.

(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)

Watch CBC Arts: Exhibitionists on Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT) on CBC Television.


Lise Hosein is a producer at CBC Arts. Before that, she was an arts reporter at JazzFM 91, an interview producer at George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. When she's not at her CBC Arts desk she's sometimes an art history instructor and is always quite terrified of bees.