I was flattered when my friends at Flux Projects asked if I would interview one of the four women artists chosen for the fall event. I love the concept and that FLUX is female-focused this year. But more than anything, I was stoked about interviewing the talented sculptor/mold maker, Rachel Garceau. We set a date and finally connected at Full Commission, a new coffee shop near Grant Park (the site for this year’s FLUX, this coming weekend, Sept 27-30th).
Now, I’m not an art expert nor am I an art writer. I’ve simply had a life-long infatuation with art, artists, art institutions, the process, and on and on. The day of our interview had been a long one, so I felt myself dragging into the coffee shop praying my questions weren’t lame and that my lack of knowledge wouldn’t horrify Rachel. The happy truth? Rachel is incredibly gracious. She’s lovely. She’s luminous. She is also a terrific storyteller and sitting down with her was one of my favorite experiences of the past few months.
Yes, Rachel Garceau is:
a mold maker
a slip caster
a print maker
and a story teller.
Here’s the story she told me.
Kyle Tibbs Jones: Rachel, what is unique about this project in your work and what impact has this experience had on you as an artist?
Rachel K. Garceau: “It was conceived when I was nine months pregnant with my son. I was two weeks late and it was the winter solstice. I knew I wanted to create something where there is only one direction into the experience and once in it, the participant must continue moving forward. Also, in the end, you would not be able to move through the experience without being changed. That’s what having a child is like, you know. You start the process and you walk through it until you come out the other side, utterly and forever changed. It is a very new thing for me to ask someone to physically interact with my art. It is also new for me to incorporate such a private and sacred experience into a project. But that’s what happened. My child’s birth was the catalyst and here we are.”
KTJ: How did you land in Atlanta? How does working here differ from other cities?
RKG: “This is my first big-city artist community. I am really a small-town girl. What I mean by that is that my path to Atlanta has been a journey from arts community to arts community, all of which have been tucked away in small towns.”
Rachel has spent the bulk of her career in three artist communities that were all started by strong women. She began her journey at The MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire (founded in 1907, the oldest in the United States), then moved to The Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, and finally to Hambidge Center for Creative Arts here in Georgia. She arrived in Atlanta to be with her husband, Grady, whom she met at Penland.
KTJ: What about your childhood in Connecticut might have been a sign that you would end up here, a professional artist participating in this project, creating a labyrinth of slip cast stones?
RKG: “Kyle, as a child, I sorted my m&ms into designs and patterns. (She laughs.) I would also collect pebbles from my drive and sell them to my sweet neighbor who played along. She agreed with me that this or that stone was much more beautiful and certainly worth a few more pennies. Like a lot of artists, I spent a lot of time alone. I read a lot. Had a big imagination.”
KTJ: What are a few ways (the more unexpected, the better)! the Atlanta community can support local artists?
RKG: “There are really only three words: PLEASE SHOW UP.”
KTJ: Tell me about this labyrinth.
RKG: “I’m creating a temporary labyrinth with handmade porcelain stones. If you come to FLUX, you’ll be able to walk the labyrinth, either on your own or during scheduled guided walks. The narrow pathways are narrow on purpose, because I want to encourage visitors to encounter one another in a more intimate way than an ordinary walk through the park. There’s also something special about what you might carry with you through the labyrinth, but let’s keep that a secret for now…”
RKG: “Would you like to make a stone?”
Rachel handed me a little mound of clay and I fashioned a stone the size of a small river rock. She said she had asked many people to help her shape the smaller stones and that all of our energy would be going into this experience.
I was honored to be a part. More than that, honored to meet Rachel. Look forward to seeing you all at FLUX, maybe inside this amazing labyrinth.
Expect to meander in magic and meaning. Expect to be changed.
About Kyle Tibbs Jones
Co-founder & Media Director of The Bitter Southerner, Kyle Tibbs Jones is the voice of The BS in social media. With pitch-perfect voice and tone across the platforms, she’s built a hyper-engaged fan base for the fast growing online magazine focused on Southern culture. Kyle also works with agencies, companies, and individuals to build brands in social media. Find her on twitter at @shetold2friends & @bittersouth and on instagram at @KyleTibbsJones & @bittersoutherner.