One’s experience is never the same as the other’s. Nature speaks differently to those who listen; and so does art. Rachel Garrard is taking such conversations with nature into a visual landscape.
Words by Tammy Danan
“I grew up in a small town in the woods by the ocean,” Rachel Garrard was surrounded by nature during her younger years. After studying in London and then New York, she spent time with indigenous communities in Mexico and South America. Today, Garrard pulls inspiration from those experiences to inform her creative practice.
And just like any kind of art, what it’s telling me is different from what it’s telling you. Its translation is to each their own.
“My art is a journey in the liminal space between scientific research and esoteric practice, through which I have developed a symbolic language that intimately connects the internal with the cosmic and universal,” shares Rachel Garrard. A multimedia artist whose work spans across paintings, installations, and sculptures, among others, Garrard notes that her paintings are, “composed from natural substances such as quartz, ash or rock powder pigment that I have personally collected, hand-ground, and applied to raw linen through a process of fine layering.”
Her unique approach to art is carried onto one of her notable works, Collective Memories. This is an ongoing installation that seems to encourage us to pause. To pay attention. To listen.
Crafted by the shore, her work is not built to last. “Nature, time, and chance are my collaborators,” says Garrard. “I believe this medium uniquely allows me to portray the fluid and transformative nature of the universe.” It’s as if Garrard’s work is built to make you notice what nature has to offer, to make your imagination wander and encourage you to preserve the beauty that’s still here. Because it may not be here tomorrow — both nature and the art installation, that is.
Today, you may stumble across Garrard’s work and be in awe. Tomorrow, it may be a plastic-ridden shore. And is that the kind of nature you want to pass on to those who will come next?
Collective Memories is all about slowing down. To forage from the landscape in front of us and see what can be done with bare minimum with our imaginations in charge. To explore nature like you’ve never explored nature before—childlike and carefree. Rachel revives this right of passage from childhood into adulthood. Letting herself get lost in the world of her art.
“Nature, time, and chance are my collaborators.”
“The complexity of being a human has always fascinated me. The thousands of organisms, systems, atoms, nerve impulses, organs, conscious and subconscious mind working together in a harmonious balance just to create a normal waking state,” she shares as she concurrently asks, “what is the consciousness and formulas behind this magical and mysterious system?”
Garrard encourages us to stay curious and incorporate play in our everyday lives. And reminds us that what we have and where we are today won’t be the same forever. Nothing remains the same and only those who pay attention can notice.
Just like only those who pay attention will notice the enigmatic and ethereal depressions and carvings on the sand.
“Sculpture can be seen as a microcosmic way to represent cosmic forces and weave together past and future. The diagrams are both intuitive and follow specific principles,” shares Garrard. She adds that, “impermanence is a part of all that lives, the truth contained within in every organism.” And there are no better words to put those thoughts together.
Collective Memories is a series of artwork installations that are a reminder to take stock of where we are in life and appreciate every speckle of it—and that slowing down is just as important as taking action. Every day we’re moving from one task to another. Which isn’t really a bad thing. But stop and smell the roses, as they say. Pause and just be.