Home from the Field

In 2013 I was honored and excited to have my first solo show at Catherine’s Gallery—it was entitled “Field Notes” and included a variety of unique pieces I made transfer printing my photographs onto original antique envelopes.

Over the years I have continued making work with these materials and transfer technique, and the gallery and I presented a small selection of new pieces for the online Safe in the Studio program during the pandemic in 2020.

Given this history, there is a feeling of homecoming, indeed, in presenting this exhibition of transfer prints “Home from the Field.” I hope this show will particularly fit these weeks in the spring of 2021 as we emerge slowly from the pandemic, and from the shelter of our homes, to step into a world also transitioning in season toward longer days.

There are obvious through lines between this work and my first show, and returning to this imagery and process has been comforting and resonant as I’ve worked to make these pieces in my San Francisco Bay Area studio the last few months. Yet there are changes, too. In particular, seeking new imagery yet unable to wander far from home, I began to photograph in my garden, especially setting up scrims and backdrops to capture the shadows and silhouettes of the plants and even cement garden statuary of squirrels and deer in my yard! Looking at these finished pieces and recognizing the leaves and stems of particular plants—the rose, the wild strawberry, the manzanita, the parsley that had gone to seed last fall—brings me a sense of place, time and season that has been a balm during this past year.

The way I used the materials in this work has also changed slightly, in particular incorporating more yellow envelopes from the 1800’s, postcards from the 1920’s and seeking out envelopes, rare and oh so hard to find, with beautiful tissue liners that I can fold up like an ornate roof. I’ve also begun to occasionally add some charcoal and white pencil accents to finished pieces. Learning, studying and using these materials—many of which I’ve had for years waiting for just the right inspiration of image and timing—is like a conversation with old papery friends. I’m so glad to extend that conversation to you.

-Rachel Phillips