AUGUST

sent AUG 29 2017 posted 9.11.17


WHAT IVE BEEN MAKING/

science / ˈsīəns/  the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. 

Shortly after my 30th birthday in March of this year, I went for a walk in the woods.
We had just returned from a trip to Puerto Rico with friends and I was feeling particularly glum about  Chicago winter.
I've been trying my hardest to love the seasons. I am naturally a summer girl. But there is a lesson in present-ness when appreciating what each season has to offer. I've been thinking about this a lot this year. Maybe it was turning 30, which everyone always describes as being somewhat of a big deal. Personally, I was prepared and ready to leave behind my 20's. But still, that season of my life was ending, a new season was beginning, and while the snow was melting that day in March the sun and the birds were still in hiding- and I was wondering what on earth the next decade was going to bring. But a walk in the woods has always been comforting for me, so I played a private game of I Spy and looked for recognizable vegetation. A mink ran across my path, a remarkably rare sight in Chicago. A gift.

When I was a little kid, my best friend and I would do something we called "river walking". Basically, we walked down the dirt road that went past her house until we reached a bridge that went over a shallow river running parallel to the road. Using the bridge, we would climb down until we were shin deep in the river water. Then we would walk back up to her house. We would stop from time to time, trying to catch crawdads or frogs, or filling our pockets with neat rocks. But for the most part, we just sloshed through the water and talked. When I came to be an older, less dependent age, I would walk the river and woods alone sometimes. I remember digging in the dirt and brush and stumbling on old animal bones, a skull, a femur of some kind. I took them home to my "laboratory", which was basically a table I set up in my room with national geographic magazines and pieces of wood, moss and fungi I had found. I put the bones and other natural materials under my toy microscope and pretend I made some great discovery, when in reality I had no idea what I was actually looking for.

On a trip to Milwaukee last year, we went to an antique store one of our friends loves to frequent. There, hanging above the registers, was a huge hoop display of drying hornets nests. The shop owner told me that after thanksgiving, when the days get colder and darker, he takes a walk in the woods and collects the abandoned nests to dry in his shop. Beautiful perfect nests. They reminded me of paper mache crafts in kindergarten, and summer camp, and they reminded me of the feeling I got when I found something I desperately needed to see under my toy microscope.
I got home; I tried to recreate it, but it kept falling short. I made all kinds of adhesive and used all types of paper, but every time I put it together, it wasn't quite right. They never looked so perfect, organic or natural. My studio diary from that failed project reads something like, "I tried to emulate nature and failed miserably." There's probably a joke somewhere in there.

It's funny how Field Notes as a project came to me over this last year, it's funny how it feels so much like my kid-laboratory. It was not intentional, but it could have been. I've been visiting my childhood without even knowing it.

A week ago I had the pleasure of enjoying the total solar eclipse on a literal precipice in Shawnee National Forest, surrounded by friends, as a celebration of my approaching marriage (in the form of a bachelorette-party-gone-backpacking). When the corona rose in the sky and we were able to take our eclipse glasses away and see the totality with the naked eye, I was overwhelmed by the startling beauty and fell to my knees in awe. I don't know if I could recreate that in a drawing, or a sculpture, or whatever; but I think I might continue to try. I still have no idea what I am looking for in making images and things, but the process of studying and making is medicine.

I hope that the end of your summer has been as beautiful and profound as mine, and I hope we can all look forward to the coming fall and it's unique comforts.

See the works together here and check back for new ones.

 

WHAT IVE BEEN DOING/

Hiking, journalling, processing, and preparing (for my wedding, in only 39 days). Taking time for myself where I can.

WHAT IVE BEEN DIGGING/

Delia Derbyshire Appreciation Society

Art.Science.Gallery Austin, TX

The Mothman Sightings over Chicago this year

Thanks for taking the time to read this newsletter. If you are newly subscribed and missed my first one, let me know and I would be happy to forward.
See you all in September.

With the best of my love,

Rachael

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