Rachel Stevens Sculptor | Whether
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About This Project

WHETHER is influenced by my hikes through the Chihuahuan Desert in Southern New Mexico. I have an affinity for open landscapes but it took years for me to feel fond of this scrappy expanse of scrub and brush. One hundred and fifty years ago this desert was a rolling grassy plain that sustained pronghorn antelope, deer, and mountain lions. During the late 1800’s imported herds of cattle grazed off the grass, topsoil blew away, and the impoverished terrain could only sustain the most tenacious plants and animals. This landscape cannot be restored and what I walk through today is a faint pleading echo of a lost sea of grass. To love the Chihuahuan Desert is to love a prickly curmudgeon. It reveals its beauty slyly as I slip down a scree slope or when my dog hops on three legs, her paw a pincushion of cholla spines. Despite all the losses, it is my personal Promised Land.

In the Chihuahuan Desert there is a powerful interplay between micro and macro scales. Dramatic light displays illuminate the Organ Mountains and monsoon clouds form and reform across late summer skies like bulky popcorn gymnasts. Intense but unnamed spring winds obscure our sight with a monotonous drone of dirt, sandblasting everything. Works from the WHETHER series reference phenomena of stress, survival, and adaptation. Natural processes form the core themes of the series.

Whether and weather are shape shifting homophones. Sculptures in the WHETHER series reference atmospheric forces but imply a conjunction of ideas. Whether alludes to alternatives. It is a fitting word for this series because I invoke weather while simultaneously offering paradoxical perspectives.