Artist Spotlight: Rachel Weaver
Pick a spot and start digging. Put your back into it, drop to your knees to plant, water regularly and wait for something to grow. Gardening is hard work. But, after dedicating time, resources and your body to it, you get to see something beautiful flourish. Just like art. The environment you immerse yourself in can lead to introspection if you allow yourself to soak in the surroundings. While out in the garden, listen to the sounds, how do they make you feel? When in the town you hear the hustle and bustle, what does it make you think of? What is your relationship with your environment? What can you do for it? What can it do for you? What can you create from it?
The soul-searching in every environment she encounters and the creativity that emerges from it shows Rachel Weaver’s deep connection to her environment. And, she hopes the art she makes will help people consider having a better relationship with theirs.
She hopes she can help others think about not only the ecological but social and emotional implications that will come with having a stronger relationship with their environment.
“I think everyone has something they can connect to their environment,” Weaver said. “One of the first things we can do is start to think about that, I don’t necessarily have the answers or the best way to do it, but for me, art or performance or just communicating with people is enough to [help them] start thinking about it and then seeing what they want to relate to it.”
One of Weaver’s main outlets is to create eccentric little pocket zines. All of them relating to the environment. She tables them around town and sells them at a name-your-price value.
“I think the zines help me make sense of it,” Weaver said. “There’s just a lot of moments when you’re in the garden or when you’re in an environment that you want time to contemplate. So, I think it’s about taking time to understand what you revere about nature or what you revere about the environment or how you’re connecting to it.”
She keeps up with contemporary environmental philosophy readings and research that she will include into her zines. Then, she will make her way to Recycled Books to grab old sci-fi or National Geographic magazines to cut out bits and pieces from. Always cutting out more than needed, she will eventually lay it out and start building ideas out of mix-matched segments.
“I’m usually pretty excited to see, ‘whoa! I had no idea that was what it was going to form,’” Weaver said. “It feels like all those ideas and images are nebulous in my head. Trying to understand them, and how do I say this back to someone else? I want to talk to people about this, how do I get other people to think about it? [Eventually] It’ll start to form an idea.”
She tries to keep the zines vague enough to spark a reader’s own connection and interpretation of the ideas in them. One of her favorite and most powerful quotes she incorporated into an environmental consciousness themed zine says, “You must open your eyes to cry.”
“You have to research, you have to comprehend, you have to look and debate, look at the climate change denial, look at all these things of it, and you have to open your eyes, and it’s the only way you’re going to understand the heartbreaking reality of our relationship with the environment,” Weaver said.
Other than the zines, she even goes out into nature or around town to get field recordings of the environments. Then, she mixes them into ambient sounds to create earthly, yet ethereal music.
“To me, it’s all wrapped together, the zines are something you read at, and look at, and take with you, the music you can feel or listen to have that interaction with it,” Weaver said.
She also has some philosophical essays published in the New Farmer’s Almanac – another creative outlet to share and teach about the environment.
Her education at UNT allowed her to travel to a remote, southern part of Chile twice. Since she returned and graduated from the environmental philosophy graduate program she has tried to see what she can do in Denton to help. Alongside her zines, music and writing she dedicates an incredible amount of time to the community.
“I know it’s all just a drop in the bucket, I don’t have any goals because I don’t know what I’m aspiring towards, I don’t know exactly what I plan to accomplish, just hopefully it helps someone a little bit somewhere,” Weaver said.
She previously volunteered with Cardo’s Farm Project and Dorothy’s Kitchen until both of their demises. She currently works with the Denton Community Market, helps assist school field trips to Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center and is a board member for KUZU radio, among plenty of other projects.
“It’s been kind of interesting to just put stuff out there and see what people want to do with it, with me. It’s kind of like, this is what I have, this is what I’m doing, what I could do, use me,” Weaver said.
Photo by Ellie Alonzo
Header image layout designed by Cristopher Rodgers