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Rachel Suzanne Smith | The Birdsell Project

Rachel Suzanne Smith

Rachel Suzanne Smith is a self proclaimed lover of nature, yet was challenged when she found herself put off by abandoned plots of land waiting to be sold or the overgrown backsides of buildings seen while walking each day along a busy state route. One becomes accustomed to rapidly developing and sprawling suburban neighborhoods that are neat, tidy, and orderly, where everything has a place and any deviation from this trend is seen as  negative. “Nature” is desirable in controlled and manicured settings, yet it shows up in every crack in the sidewalk and in every side lot forgotten. Those walks turned out to be nature hikes with a little bit of observation and a change in perspective, but it’s undeniable that most people would have a negative reaction to the plants encountered, especially if they were to invade their carefully manicured spaces. And that’s a big part of what Rachel sets out to do in her work: to challenge the perception of weeds and wildflowers, while simultaneously adorning those abandoned spaces where the wildflowers thrive. For this installation, Rachel has created wildflower/weed wallpaper that references typical home decor, yet demonstrates the process of take over that occurs during natural growth. The images are derived from honeysuckle and bittersweet, both invasive to the South Bend area. Additionally, the small metal sculptures acting as discreet adornment around the room reference seed pods or depict weeds in a beautiful way, creating small scale work that enhances the value of both the plants referenced and the space they adorn.