Chris Rackleydidn’t have a particularly bad relationship with his father. Therefore, don’t read too much into his graphite drawings of himself dressed as both Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, battling with lightsabers.

His main goal was to depict an adversarial relationship with himself and how his own thinking can get in his way.

"It’s me forcing myself to have this conflict with myself," Rackley said.

Those works and more are part of "Portray," a new exhibit at the Anderson Art Centerat Red Wing’s Tower View, which opens Jan. 25.

The makeshift costumes of canvas and cardboard props held together with tape add some playful realism, but also show the futility of the struggle.

"It’s not perfect, it’s not polished," Rackley said.

Like his art.

An instructor at George Mason University helped him get out of his own way as an artist. Rackley entered school studying Baroque painting techniques.

Including science fiction elements in art isn’t something a serious painter did. So he concentrated on what he considered at the time to be serious art.

"I made a lot of bad paintings," he said.

Some harsh critiques came with those paintings. An instructor asked him what he would do if he could do anything regardless of school, costs, or logistics.

"I said, ‘I guess I’d build a rocket, make a spaceship,’" Rackley recalled. "She said, ‘what’s stopping you?’"

That’s when Rackley found his voice as an artist -- after he got over his own idea of what art should be, which was impeding his art.

Giving himself permission to include imagery and themes that were meaningful to him gave him a language of expression for much of his work.

"We shouldn’t really dictate what medium or content can be transformative," he added.

With that, Rackley began to get out of his own way.

If you do want insight into Rackley’s relationship with his father, visit the Rochester Art Center where his show, "Does Your Shoe Have a Boy Inside?" as part of Art(ists) on the Vergeis up through Feb. 8 with support from the Jerome Foundation.

The work re-creates memories from his father’s shoe store, including a giant shoe box and miniatures you can view through peepholes to see scenes from the shop, including his father’s desk with miniature reproductions of Rackley’s childhood artwork (bonus points if you spot the Dalek).

Rackley said he wanted to create big and small experiences to recreate a child’s perspective and an adult’s perspective.

"I wanted to create a space where the adult and the child co-exist," he said.

Creating it helped him see try to things from the perspective of a child again, but also, as an adult now, from his father’s perspective too.

"I make art because I want to develop my own capacity for empathy, to be a better listener, to really see someone else’s life or world," he said.

{{tncms-inline content="<p>If You Go</p> <p>What: “Portray” contemporary portrait exhibit</p> <p>Where: Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, 163 Tower View Dr., Red Wing</p> <p>When: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. “Portray” runs Saturday through March 21.</p> <p>Cost: Free</p> <p>The Anderson Center has another exhibit of bowls, cups, and mugs, “Vessels,” at the same time as “Portray.” An opening reception for both takes place 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24.</p> <p>Also see Art(ists) on the Verge at the Rochester Art Center, 40 Civic Center Dr. SE, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays, and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays. Admission is $5 for non-member adults.</p>" id="cadc787e-8775-442e-bd37-bee04fd2a9ee" style-type="fact" title="If You Go" type="relcontent"}}

If You Go

What: "Portray" contemporary portrait exhibit

Where: Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, 163 Tower View Dr., Red Wing

When: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. "Portray" runs Saturday through March 21.

Cost: Free

The Anderson Center has another exhibit of bowls, cups, and mugs, "Vessels," at the same time as "Portray." An opening reception for both takes place 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24.

Also see Art(ists) on the Verge at the Rochester Art Center, 40 Civic Center Dr. SE, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays, and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays. Admission is $5 for non-member adults.