ST. GEORGE — One woman is taking items that would otherwise be discarded and turning them into unique home decor. And that’s not all she’s whipping up.

Artist Rachel Mangan stands with her various art mediums in St. George, Utah, Dec. 13, 2023 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

As artist Rachel Mangan set up her various artwork on a table, she smiled.

“Being outside is one of my most favorite things,” she told St. George News. “I hope that my art inspires people to get outside and protect our landscapes so that we will be able to enjoy and benefit from natural outdoor spaces and that the native plants and animals can continue to thrive.”

She said her degree in environmental science and resource management with a focus on wildlife conservation is what drives her to use materials that would otherwise be thrown away.

Creativity has been a part of Mangan’s life for as long as she can remember. Growing up, she scrapbooked her family’s vacations and loved to draw. In 2010, she worked at Mount St. Helens for a summer, which is where a coworker taught her how to crochet. She made hats and headbands and fell in love with the creative outlet.

Artwork by Rachel Mangan includes a framed cowboy boot made out of old climbing rope, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Rachel Mangan, St. George News

At the same time, Mangan started rock climbing and began making chalk bags by crocheting the bag and using other materials to complete it. Friends gave her old gear that they were ready to retire and that included everything from climbing ropes to rain jackets.

While working in a retail store, she repurposed old window banners and turned them into tote bags using her grandmother’s old sewing machine.

After stepping away from art for a few years, she and her husband moved to Southern Utah in 2016. As soon as she saw the work of other local artists, she felt inspired. She began playing around with different art mediums including pastel and oil painting.

In 2017, she lost her father — an artist in his own right who instilled within her a love for the outdoors — to cancer.

Artwork by Rachel Mangan is made from old climbing rope, St. George, Utah, Dec. 13, 2023 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

“I always come back to something because I love creating and it’s fun to see people’s reactions and get an emotion,” she said. “Art is a really powerful way of re-experiencing something and remembering an event. It’s a really cool way of expressing things.”

Two years later, she tried watercolor painting and that’s where her passion has been ever since. She started by selling her work at Joy Craft & Design in Springdale, and the feedback and encouragement kept her painting.

“I was able to look back through some of my photos and paint some of the amazing places I’ve been and the beautiful plants and animals I always seem to take pictures of,” she said about watercolor.

But her desire to create hasn’t stopped there. With a backlog of old climbing rope and other gear from making chalk bags, she decided to take her creativity to a new level by making framed art with repurposed climbing rope. Much of her rope art is inspired by the desert and Western themes and includes cowboy boots, cowboy hats and desert sunrises.

Watercolor art by Rachel Mangan is on display, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Rachel Mangan, St. George News

Mangan’s husband is a Red Desert Adventure guide, which provides the perfect opportunity to obtain climbing rope before it’s thrown away. She also obtains rope from Contact Climbing Gym and is always accepting donations from the public. Donations can be submitted here.

“I absolutely love the flowers in the desert,” she said, holding one of her art pieces. “This last spring was exceptional. There were so many wildflowers and mountain fields everywhere. And really, most of my artwork is inspired by the landscapes around us and the flowers and hoping to get people to go outside.”

Currently, she spends her time hiking, painting and upcycling old gear. Working at Zion in the summers, she hopes to make art her winter work that will inspire her to get outside.

For more information on Mangan, visit her website. Shop her work in person at Trudy’s Spot in Hurricane. Shop online via the RacheManganArt Etsy Shop. Follow @rachel.mangan.art on Instagram or email her directly at rachel.mangan.art@gmail.com.

Photo Gallery

Watercolor art by Rachel Mangan is on display, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Rachel Mangan, St. George News

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