I will be researching the following ideas: How does the Atlanta Beltline function as a physical and spiritual space that reflects complex relationships to our built environment? What happens when we consider this massive urban development through a lens of ‘wildness?’ Wildness is an ‘othering’ concept that distances us from a natural state. It also conjures up opposing imagery including allure, danger, and enticement or peace, purity and nature. Can urban development be seen as a process of the creation and subjugation of wildness through stages of abandonment, cultivation + ownership, and curation + domination? What happens when we tune into the states of wildness that exist along the Beltline while it is itself in various stages of development? Can seeing through the complex lens of wildness allow us a pathway to understand how we can live in harmony with the disparate parts of our communities? Can it allow us to be more gentle with the processes of cultivation and domination that urban development pushes us toward by offering alternative value systems to sit alongside economic ones?
Working internationally, Rachel’s visual and performance art has been seen at venues including Tate Britain, de Young Museum, Lyric Hammersmith, Battersea Arts Centre, Woodruff Art Center and Standpoint Gallery, as well as in public spaces such as train stations, community centers, homes for the elderly, in streets, schools and online.
I am a contemporary artist working with diverse ecologies of collaborators, including humans, nonhumans, and their histories. Whether making new performance in London, developing art-based compassion trainings with the NYPD’s Hostage Negotiation Team, designing creative placemaking programs in Atlanta, or documenting the story of a moment as told by the sun in Oakland, my work draws from conceptual and social practice and is characterized by bringing together complex and often divided communities and creating spaces for collaborative co-creative processes to unfold. My identities as an artist, a mother and a mixed-race (African American mother, white father) woman from the southern USA, are woven lace. Equally formative, my family home was an informal safehouse, welcoming over a hundred people to live with us as I grew up. New people arrived with little notice and with a backdrop of varied contexts of crisis (from individuals experiencing homelessness or diagnosed with AIDS in the late 1980s, to refugees awaiting asylum) and would stay for anywhere from a day to years. It was a life of radical hospitality, rooted in traditions of rural creole culture and a commitment to social justice. These orientations are the bedrock for my craft as an artist in the world.
While building on my experience with complex groups of people, my current work has broadened to include working with non-human and non corporeal agents such as the sun, ancestors, archival documents, soil and seeds. Similarly expansive are the materials: found wood, scraped knees, words, craft paper, the force of the wind, performance, stretched canvas, hand-woven fabric, oral histories, No. 2 pencils–multiplicities of these mark-makers contribute to the process and documentation of the creative gestures I initiate and nurture. These agents are collaborators in the co-creative process. My creative task is to tune my listening in to attend to their particular modality of communication and, moving with care and craft, to sculpt spaces of dialogic processes along side them.