Meet the Vault: Vanessa of The Rolling Thunder

Get to know Vanessa, the owner of The Rolling Thunder featured at The Vault Collective Vermont. We asked Vanessa about her collage practice, the magic of sourcing vintage, rock climbing, and more. Here are her responses: 

The Rolling Thunder came purely from my own obsession with vintage, and started in two places where I was spending a lot of my time - El Paso, Texas and Prescott, Arizona. I was working as a rock climbing guide seasonally at a state park about twenty minutes outside of El Paso. I’d go into town for groceries, but I’d also go to pawn shops and Savers, just looking for stuff for myself. I started to covet things, like long fringe leather jackets and cowboy boots. So I started acquiring this incredible collection. 

Prescott, Arizona has incredible thrift stores. So I started thrifting there, and I was also finding really exquisite jewelry - vintage Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni jewelry - and beautiful Navajo woven rugs and artworks like sand paintings.

I was in Vermont for the other half of the year managing an art gallery for my other seasonal job. I proposed the idea of setting up a collection of vintage fashion found out west, and they gave me the okay, so I did it. It started out as this little thing, one rack, and now I’m at The Vault as well, which has been huge for me. And I still feel like a newbie in some ways, but it all happened really organically. I had no business sense whatsoever, it’s just from a pure love of fashion.

As an artist I’m really drawn to the Western U.S. for the physical landscape, like many artists before me. My grandmother was a professional artist, and she would go out west every year to paint as well. So there was that, but I was also a rock climber. So I was in these places where everything is epic - the size of the rocks, the size of the sky, and the colors, the reds and the ochres. It was deeply visually inspiring for me as a climber, but then also as a person who understands the world visually. My love of these big rocks has transpired to my love of little rocks that you can wear, like turquoise and jasper and malachite. It all visually seduced me - the raw, organic beauty that exists in the natural world is why I just want to keep going back. 

 The Daybreakers collage, acrylic, ink, oil on canvas 16x40x2"

Collage is the same as sourcing fashion, where you have all of these disparate pieces that create a collection or a whole. When I’m looking for images for my collages, it’s the same thing as when I’m sourcing vintage - I find things all over my travels. The more you keep your eyes open, the more likely you are to find something in an unlikely place. I love that element of surprise, I don’t really get very surgical with finding images or fashion. I like to have this magical happened-upon-it moment, the kind of magic of being alive and being able to put yourself in the right place at the right time, and have something find you, whether it’s a piece of paper or a piece of clothing. 

My favorite thing about selling at The Vault is the team. All these people that come and go and all have different styles, which teaches me how to dress myself in a different way, or other ways of thinking about fashion. Sometimes I’ll see someone wearing something and it opens my brain up. And then the best case scenario is if someone finds something that feels dreamy to them from your collection when you’re working, and then they walk out wearing it - that’s my favorite. 

You can shop Vanessa's collection, The Rolling Thunder, here!