Rachel BanksVenus from seasons change and so do you series (2014)

Back in the late-90s, I went to a job fair for a big chain bookstore–now long defunct. I interviewed for a position and was fascinated by the questions the interviewers asked. It wasn’t the usual corporate boiler plate–tell me a challenge you faced when you worked at X, how you handled it and how in hindsight you could’ve improved your handling of the situation?

Instead, they asked my favorite book, movie, album. It was all stuff I was more than ready to provide an answer for until the progression turned to this strange sort of abstract free association where I was asked to respond to various prompts with one word.

I remember one prompt was how would you describe yourself. I answered: ‘observant’. But I cheated. I was supposed to say the first word that came to mind. The actual first word was ‘insular’.

‘Insular’ is one of those words that has unfortunate connotations. It bears the patina of the same sort of associations as ‘isolationist’ in the context of geopolitical scenarios.

Yet, what I meant when I thought to label myself as ‘insular’ is a perfect corollary to Banks’ images.

Her frames are tightly curated. There’s a feeling that they teeter between the freedom that a certain level of restriction allows and a lurking claustrophobia.

There’s also an ephemeral-ness. As if the moment presented were a chance occurrence, a glimmer that was some how miraculously frozen in time.

For example: with the image above everything is staged, the hair over the face is arranged with a precision, the relationship between the top of her head and the top of the hedges. Yet, the fabric seems as if it is suspend on a line and an opportune gust of wind whipped out up and out of the way allowing an unblocked view of the subject.

(I love the details: the tattered fringe of the fabric, the billowing arc of it; the way her arms are pressed taught against her back rendering the body suit semi-sheer.)

I adore the way Banks presents her work. From seasons changes and so do you:

When I was very small, my father and I made a water slide that killed all of the grass in our front yard, but he never cared. Many years later I found myself being yelled at for leaving tire tracks from my first car in his front yard. There is a hole in the tree from my teenage home where boys used to leave me notes.

seasons change and so do you is a series of work about memory and the physical and emotional impressions that are left in the landscape and on the heart. As the landscape alters and blooms from the weather, other things die and shrivel away. I find that the always changing Texas terrain mimics the mechanism in which I create, distort, and store away memories of the past. This series was photographed in the Northern Region of Texas in locations that I drive by multiple times a day. This body of work is inspired by drastic changes in weather, metamorphosis and memories associated with seasons from the past.

Although it is too abstract and keyword-y to pass muster as an artist’s statement, there’s a way in which the text addresses something specific both explicitly and implicitly. A better way to put it might be that what is included–especially with the first paragraph–speaks equally if not more to things that were elided, excluded or obfuscated.

So while I don’t think it’s a good artist’s statement in the traditional sense, it compliments the work by accomplishing with text the same sort of lateral emotional resonance for which the images seem to strive.

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