Rachel Kauff

individual, ENTITY.3037
Life Dates:
b. 1989
GVSU Alumni Status:
GVSU Alum, 2012
Artist Biography:
Artist's Statement: "Beyond our notions of nature and the untamed is a pulse that does not stop beating when we walk out of the woods and on to the sidewalk, though we may feel we have crossed threshold that would change its rhythms. My work pursues a glimpse of this wildness-a meditation on land and flesh. In the broadest sense I work within landscape to define a relationship to land. At times the work takes the familiar form of ground and horizon in flat image, while other times the investigations are less traditional; carved deadwood, collected insect wings, impressions of skin form documents and narratives of physical experiences in the environment. Time is the pivot of the work, for land cannot be understood by sight alone, and these are not snapshots. Natural materials are carefully collected, drawn marks relentlessly sustained, sites revisited again and again. I seek to understand the physical through ritual. Though the work may seem quiet, this should not be taken for silence. My investment in landscape comes from a vehement objection to the degradation of our land- a daily anesthetization of our very lifeblood. I reject any notion of nature that can be isolated in the laboratory or reduced to a sheen of sunsets and green leaves as such delusions allow us to continue pretending that we can similarly isolate our own existence from the land. Printmaking and bookmaking form the essential vehicles of my inquiry, sometimes through narrative, other times as record. The intimacy of book forms allows me to create objects to compel the viewer through touch, be it direct physical interaction or the way the delicate materials form the image. Informed by such environmental thinkers as David Abram and Edward Abbey as well as the information transmitted through the soles of my own feet, I seek to reimagine landscape in a way that draws the human into the more-than-human world. " -Rachel Kauff Statement on Work "Toskavat": "After more than a few hours on I-80, the continuous panorama of fields and ditch has the power to pull loose something rooted deep in the bones. Hurtling towards nowhere at 75 miles per hour lulls the spirit into a state somewhere between coma and horror. It is a paralyzing numbness that begins with the realization that though the eyes could take in a place for miles and the feet could wander every square inch, one could never have it. The motorized landscape enables the eyes to grasp a thread of the infinite that the body could never circumscribe. So begins a search for ground on which to put my feet; a place that will always be somewhere else. It is a hope that every path ends in four walls. It is a wind that flares the nostrils and spurs the feet to run. At its surface it could be called nostalgia, but at its core such a place never existed, not even in the past. The Russians have a better word for it: toska- a longing darker than nostalgia verging on despair. Dead places call for dead living. Bright lights that eclipse the moon. Strawberries in December. Hard flat tombstones forming the walkway. The body knows this; each is a symptom. What follow are windows from which we can look out, or peer in." -Rachel Kauff, 2012