Rachael Anderson

The work is an ode to the awe-inspiring biological force of compostable, ephemeral subjects such as leaves, decaying fruit, branches, iron metals, and plant matter. I consider how paint, photographic emulsion, and material assemblage come together as a metaphor for the first compost or primordial soup: a prebiotic mixture of organic matter that is the hypothetical origin of all life on earth. I use paint and emulsion as an impermanent substance that composes, conjoins, coagulates, and decomposes images. I bathe the surface of my canvases in thinned paint that is dispersed on top of water. The resulting paint-washed surfaces appear veiny, amorphous, foggy, rusty, and covered with mold—all aesthetic conditions that conjoin figure and ground to suggest a oneness of material form that emerges from the primordial soup. The work’s in-between-states quality in all media is an active way of portraying subjects which are integral things like nutrient rich-rotten plant matter or polluted air. I enjoy mixing categories of subject and content to offer a nuanced way to reconsider “overlooked,” traditionally regarded as unimportant material beings that have complex relationships with our ecologies.


I often paint from observation as a way to form a durational, embodied experience with subjects across time. I consider the act of painting from observation a form of agency to meditate on my body by mingling with other bodies in a culture that is usually distracted from the physical and spiritual realms. Photography coincides with my painting practice and offers a field-based research way of working that records moments at the intersection of my perception, the subject, and the camera. Instant photography emphasizes space between articulate form and particulate matter by an atmospheric blurring quality produced by the dynamics of environmental light, potassium chemicals and dye layers within the film. I see this dynamic as yet another aesthetic stand-in for the primordial soup or ultimate realm of possibility. I think it is important to ponder the relationships of various ways of making an image in order to get to the heart of what it means to reflect on the world through media.