Rachael M. Gonzalez
Field Notes, further thoughts
May 22, 2018
Field Notes is an ongoing series of drawings on paper, prints, and handmade objects that began in late 2016. It is a slow and meditative project, consisting of only around 10 finished pieces as of today. The project is a study of found ecosystems in the woods and fields mostly around the Midwest, although now that I live in Mexico this will likely change. I am especially fascinated by mycelium colonies and tree allies/foes, which either improve and regenerate their surrounding ecosystem, or transform it into something completely different, such as a burl. The drawings are from life but they read as abstract.
I was inspired to start this series for a few reasons.
I was thinking and reading a lot about the ongoing political fight(s) against the natural landscape in the USA, which completely pains me as a gardener, backpacker, & folk herbalist who has a deep love for wild places. I decided to draw from what I found in the wood and field because it is such a joy to study abnormalities and organic patterns, to trace their forms and realize an entire world exists there that we walk past unnoticed every day. I felt like if more people stopped to look, more people might care. It’s as simple as that.
Robin Wall Kimmerer wrote in Braiding Sweetgrass, “Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.”
This was the unexpected lesson. This is the part of the drawings that are not seen; I am no longer just observing, I can see now that I am not separate. The act of going to the woods to draw not only brought my attention to the otherwise unseen, it made me participate in the regeneration. I pick up old beer bottles and trash. I ask permission to pick berries and leave a gift in return. I reduced my plastic use.
The work is medicinal in that it has changed me for the better, too.