Artists Statement: Since 2007, I have been creating monotypes of my native New England. My work examines tensions between loss and gain – specifically, the way in which the ache of nostalgia is balanced by its ability to reveal patterns in our lives. In my images, quiet, evocative scenes act like memories, inspiring longing while exposing consistencies of form and subject.
In order to uncover these consistencies, I reduce my images to their essence. Silhouettes take precedence over interior details, compositions narrow to a single focus, and color is simplified or eliminated. Abstraction calls attention to repetitive elements in my work. Hanging boughs, shifting light and waving grass become symbols for an entire sensibility. Nostalgia disappears, replaced by awareness of a larger pattern.
Bio: Rachel Burgess is an artist based in New York. She has a B.A. in Literature from Yale University (2004) and an M.F.A. in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts (2007). Her work exhibits nationally and internationally at galleries and museums, and also features in books and magazines. She has been recognized by publications such as CMYK Magazine, the Society of Illustrators Annual, 3×3 Magazine of Contemporary Illustration and Still Point Arts Quarterly. An issue of Carrier Pigeon Magazine featuring her work is in the publications collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is also the recipient of several awards.
I am fascinated by the stabilizing potential of such patterns, particularly in a world of distractions, where we are not encouraged to sit with sadness or longing. In recent works, I depict single images across several sheets of paper, breaking scenes into fragments to convey the bittersweet aspects of nostalgia. The viewer experiences the piece by connecting these fragments visually, mimicking the emotional reward of gaining insight through nostalgic reflection.
I draw inspiration from classical Western illustration and traditional Japanese prints and paintings; I am also influenced by the mutable yet enduring nature of folk ballads and oral tradition. On a formal level, I use monotype because the process mirrors my interest in loss and gain, since the “painting” that I create on a plate is erased and a unique print on paper is created.