We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Gardner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Work life balance has changed a lot for me over the past few years. Going from having no kids and being an Adjunct Art Professor, to having two kids in 3 years and becoming a full-time Professor, I have a lot less time to make my own art. I don’t necessarily see this as a negative thing. I have to use my time more efficiently and creatively. My drives to work or my morning runs are used for brainstorming. I keep a sketchpad with me at all times just in case I get a second to jot things down. Recently, I have been getting my 10 month old son down for bed and my 3 year old daughter and I go work in my studio. It has become a really special time for us, We are collaborating on a new series where I am casting her hands and feet in new sculptural work. She is very proud to be a part of it, and often has very insightful critiques.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have always felt most alive in nature. Growing up in suburbia, I watched the concrete invade our natural world. As trees and creatures disappeared, I felt a loss connection to the enchanted world that once surrounded me. There are two themes that run throughout my work: A longing to connect to nature in our modern world and the cycles of life expressed through our natural world. In much of my imagery, I express these ideas and tensions through juxtaposition. Wild creatures are coated in a white plastic sheen and new life grows from something that has passed. Whether I am sculpting with it, or drawing on it, paper is my primary medium in sharing my concepts. My work is meant to reconnect us back to nature and awaken our human souls. My mantra throughout the years has been ‘Make The Work’ and opportunities will come. This has helped me stay true to my artistic voice no matter the circumstances. My work continues to change and evolve as I do, but nature is always present.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend were to come visit, I would certainly not be short of ideas for places or things to experience in Houston. We would start our morning at Boomtown Coffee and grab some Chilosos breakfast tacos. We would then go for a nice walk at the newly renovated Memorial Park. After that we would head to The Menil and have a picnic lunch across the street at the park. We would then go shop at Heights Mercantile and grab some ice cream at Cloud 9 creamery. We would end our evening with drinks and dinner at Coltivare. Other places we would experience throughout the week would be Asia Society, local artists studios, Houston Dairymaids, local Thai restaurants. I could go on and on…
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am so grateful to work in such a creative environment with being an Art Professor at Houston Baptist University. I am surrounded by an encouraging, creative art family. Both my students and my colleagues inspire me greatly with their own practices and their support with mine. I would also not be able to balance it all with out the love and support from my husband and family. They not only cheer me on, they are often myself studio assistants to varying degrees.
Facebook: Rachel Schwind Gardner
“Mother Nature” photo credit; Aaron Novak All others are taken by the the artist (me)