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Rachel Simmons ~ Florida

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Rachel Simmons Artist's Bio: "Rachel Simmons is an artist-educator who teaches book arts and printmaking at Rollins College. Rachel began teaching there in 2000 after earning her MFA in Painting & Drawing from Louisiana State University. Her diverse practice explores environmental issues, social narratives and personal self-reflection. Many of her books address tensions surrounding globalization, ecotourism, activism, climate change & sustainability. In Rachel’s socially engaged art projects, she asks community participants to think critically and creatively about our relationship with nature."

CBAA artist feature
TEDx Talk "Green Art: Art that Makes a Difference", January 2011

Dream of the Golden Empress
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2023. Edition of 10.

Doubled-sided accordion in a hard cover magnetic enclosure with letterpress and screen prints on French and Thai kozo papers, book cloth, and decorative Japanese paper. Closed dimensions are 13.5” tall x 6.75” wide x .78” deep. Open dimensions are 13.5” tall x 16” wide x .5” deep, and for standing display, the dimensions are 13.5” tall x 50” wide x 4” deep. Written, designed and printed by Rachel Simmons. Numbered.

Rachel Simmons: "Through cinematic visual language, ‘Dream of the Golden Empress’ tells the story of an arrogant emperor bent on environmental destruction. The characters in this allegory— the Emperor, the Golden Empress and the People— are archetypes referencing actors from the current political landscape in the United States. Like shadow puppets, each character embodies easily recognizable traits like greed, selfishness, compassion, anger and love. The lush color palette of violet, black, gold, emerald green and bright orange alludes to elitist behaviors of excess and unchecked power. Across the book, a linear narrative in fuchsia floats over repeated storm clouds, disrupted by a sequence of five-line protest poems, each multi-layered through pressure printing on wood type. The textural quality of these prints evokes a sense of vibration or disruption, hampering one’s ability to read the message as it glitches.

“These two distinct but interwoven threads, the narrative and the poetry, capture two ideas: the historical retelling of a political disaster, and the interruptions caused by cacophonous voices of dissent, warning and protest. The moral of the allegory is revealed in the colophon where readers are asked to take responsibility for their political choices, because despite what fairytales tell us, there are no heroic figures who can save us from ourselves. On the reverse side of the accordion, the Golden Empress is illustrated through Lego relief prints in a style inspired by Balinese shadow puppets. She moves through a series of poses—perhaps dancing or fighting—as befitting her dream to inspire the People to move, respond and take action."

Dream of the Golden Empress book
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Antarctica: An Explorer's Archive
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons , 2022. Edition of 12.

Glass and vellum fan book with digitally printed images and text; four vintage 50 ml glass vials with digitally printed vellum pages, knitted socks worn in Antarctica by the artist with embroidery thread, dried acrylic ink & punch labels; painted wooden rack; screen-printed pamphlet book with digitally printed engineering paper & waxed thread. A) Pamphlet book: Closed dimensions 11.25” tall x 7.18” wide. Open dimensions 11.25” tall x 14”.25” wide. (B) Fan book: Closed dimensions 4” tall x 8” wide x .5” deep. Open dimensions are 15” tall x 15” wide x .5” deep (C) Glass vials in wooden rack: Dimensions are 6” tall x 7.2” wide x 1.4” deep. Optional custom fitted archival display box measuring 17" tall x 20.75" wide x 3" deep.

Rachel Simmons: "'Through this personal archive, I engage with concepts of exploration, heroism, gender, storytelling, and memory. There are three distinct physical components in the archive, each referencing an officer’s roles on a typical polar expedition: a scientist’s lab vials, distilling the essentials of exploration; a photographer’s glass book, juxtaposing my experiences with those of early polar explorers; and the ship’s log, written by the captain or navigator, containing a photo essay about the MV Lyubov Orlova, the Soviet-era ship that brought me to the Antarctic Peninsula in 2008, only to be lost at sea a few years later.

“The archive’s materials reference the purpose of expeditions— the gathering of data and mapping new areas, the activity of documenting one’s travels through ship’s logs and journals, and the importance of archiving such materials for educational and historic purposes. This interactive archive encourages the reader/viewer to examine the role of the modern ecotourist— a traveler that’s neither scientist nor professional explorer— for whom surviving in the wilderness is an experience they pay to have, rather than work they are paid to do.

“Throughout the archive, I incorporate text from Alfred Lansing’s dramatic recounting of the voyage of the Endurance, Ernest Shackleton’s doomed 1914 Antarctic expedition in a wooden ship that was swallowed by ice floes. Lansing’s heroic, gritty, ultra masculine story about how Shackleton’s crew struggled to survive is juxtaposed with my expedition photographs and stories, taken as a woman traveling alone far from home, battling anxiety, seasickness and homesickness, but within the comforts of a cruise ship. Since women were not invited to participate in early polar expeditions, they were excluded from opportunities to become heroic explorers, claim land in their name, inspire grand narratives and secure impressive public personas. As Virginia Woolf wrote, ‘As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.’ In part, my desire to travel to Antarctica was to prove to myself that I could do it, and later, to communicate my experiences to others.

“Archives are usually repositories for primary sources and evidence-based materials; however, archives can also document the universal human experience through events in an individual’s life. In this personal archive, I sought to document, revisit and process my Antarctic travel by including pieces of clothing I wore, curating a selection of my photographs, and conducting new research into the origins and disappearance of the Orlova. In many ways, the Orlova was like the Endurance—a floating home that was tragically lost to the sea in service of adventure. As is often the case in my practice, this project was driven by a need to make meaning of events in my life, while communicating aspects of my experiences for the reader/viewer. And, as with any archive, it can be cross-referenced with other archives to provide a more wholistic picture of world events.”

$1,650 without box
$ 1,850 in box

Antarctica: An Explorer's Archive book
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Antarctica with box
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Antarctica book
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Antarctica book
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Antarctica book
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By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2022. Edition of 10.

6” tall x 6.5” wide x 1” deep closed; 5.75” tall x 16.5” wide x 14” open. Tunnel book construction. Digital printing and letterpress on paper and board. Hard cover with magnetic wrapper box. Includes information page with colophon slipped behind picture on front pastedown. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Rachel Simmons: "This tunnel book is named after the MV Lyubov Orlova, a former Russian icebreaker—now a ghost ship—that took me safely to the Antarctic Peninsula in 2008 and again in 2009. I created the scene by making a collage of elements from multiple photographs taken at various times and locations. Like a colorized postcard, this abstraction of a real experience depicts passengers from the Orlova on a zodiac tour of an iceberg bay. In the foreground, one of my cabin mates, a Tasmanian prison guard on holiday, is taking photographs of the landscape. Towards the back of the scene, the Orlova waits patiently for her passengers to return for food, warmth and comfort. The hyper-saturated colors intentionally flatten the space even as the tunnel structure seeks to deepen it, reframing the polar landscape as a theatrical stage and transforming my personal experience as an eco-tourist into a brightly packaged commodity."

Colophon: “Named after a glamorous Russian movie star, the MV Lyubov Orlova was a 259 foot long ice-strengthened ship built in 1976 to ferry passengers along the eastern coastline of the Soviet Union. Later in the1990’s, she did a stint as a freight ship, transporting cars from Japan. Eventually she was renovated in 1999 to be used as an Antarctic cruise ship.

“I made the Orlova’s acquaintance in 2008 … one hundred passengers … a Romanian computer programmer based in Toronto, a Swiss banker traveling around the globe, a group of Australian backpackers, two sisters from the Midwest, a rowdy Tasmanian prison guard, and a young Ukrainian who jumped into the icy bay in a polka dot bikini for a brisk swim.”

Orlova book
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Particulate History
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2022. Edition of 20.

Closed dimensions: 12” wide by 6” tall x .25” deep. Open dimensions: 24” wide by 6” tall x 4” deep. Double accordion structure with handmade paper magnetic enclosure. Typewritten text, monotype and relief prints on Thai Kozo paper with gesso, thread and collage. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Rachel Simmons: "’Particulate History’, a double accordion featuring polar imagery and visual poetry, was inspired by the scientific method of harvesting historical climate data from the earth’s glaciers by drilling and extracting long frozen cylinders called ice cores. Air pollution, volcanic glass shards, greenhouse gases and industrial chemicals circulate across the planet and become trapped within air bubbles in the ice, preserving samples of the earth’s atmosphere over hundreds and thousands of years. Scientists can travel back in time by studying these layers of frozen time, allowing them to measure and date volcanic eruptions, rising CO2 emissions, temperature fluctuations and even fallout from thermonuclear bombs. I learned about ice cores when researching for my first trip to Antarctica and quickly became fascinated by their physical embodiment of time and knowledge. As I crunched my boots across deep snowfall, I couldn’t help thinking about the history below my feet.

"The flexible, tactile structure of the book invites manipulation and presents multiple views based on a reader’s individual exploration. One can peer through cut windows to spy turquoise icebergs or read visual poetry on the mysterious nature of history captured in ice. The work was also influenced by my memories of riding in a zodiac through chunks of ice in the Antarctic Peninsula while hearing glacial ice falling into the bay. The book reads, ‘Glittering white almanac, buckled by pressure, by time, pages floating/flowing, temporarily. A slow metallic crack echoes across the bay.’ The broken textures and aqua color palette evoke the ice, snow, dust and the relentless wind that scours the glaciers. I used found items— plastic carrying bags, ribbon and rubber mesh— to press textures into a Gelli plate to make unique marks in the ink. The six images of the icebergs, also found in my earlier book ‘Tracking B15’, came from photographs I took in a glacial lagoon off the Lemaire Channel."

Particulate History book
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Fractured Fathers
By Rachel Simmons and Benjamin D. Rinehart
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons / Benjamin D. Rinehart, 2021. Edition of 10.

Folding container holding two flextangle rings and one pamphlet. Signed and numbered by the artists.

  • Number of pages: Flextangle - 4 surfaces, pamphlets - 36 pages combined.
  • Medium: collapsible box with archival pigment & pressure prints and vinyl labels; archival pigment printed flextangles and pamphlet book.
  • Dimensions: Container– 10” x 5.5” x 2.5” (closed), 15” x 18” (open) Flextangles– 4.5” x 4.5” x 2” Pamphlet– 10” x 5.5” x .1825” (closed), 10” x 11” x .1825” (open).
  • Paper: Bristol 20 pt. and Mohawk Superfine Text soft white 28 lbs.
  • Flextangle: Images, text, and vinyl labels printed on an archival Epson printer.
  • Container & cover: Designs created using pressure printing with oil-based ink.
  • Closure: Magnets.

Project Statement: "’Fractured Fathers’ is a collaborative artists book created by Benjamin D. Rinehart from Appleton, Wisconsin and Rachel Simmons from Orlando, Florida. The process began with a conversation between close friends about their complex relationships with their fathers, Jim and Terry. In the summer of 2020, during the first pandemic lockdown, they interviewed one another over video conferencing and transcribed the conversations.

“Their discoveries led to the creation of two flextangles and a third collaborative book based on the transcripts. For the flextangles, they used photos of their fathers augmented through digital manipulation and pressure printing. Everything was finalized during an in-person studio session in Appleton a year later. Through this process they found kinship between their common experiences & parallels between their family relationships and themselves."

Fractured Fathers book
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Visible Climate: [Deluxe]:
Postcards from America's Changing Landscapes

By Rachel Simmons and Lee Lines
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2023. Deluxe edition of 15, variable.

Each copy includes a print-on-demand artists’ book with fold out postcards and a different original mixed media drawing from the “Visible Climate” series. The hardcover drum-leaf bound book is 10” x 8” and the drawings average around 8.5” x 11” in size. Each drawing is unique, and made by hand using photo transfers, watercolor and charcoal pencil. Numbered.

Rachel Simmons: "This interdisciplinary project was completed in 2020 by Lee Lines (geographer) and Rachel Simmons (artist), colleagues at Rollins College who have collaborated on environmentally themed visual art projects since 2010. ‘Visible Climate’ is the product of more than 175 hours of field work in our national parks, researching and documenting climate change impacts, followed by a collaborative process of translating visual evidence into an artists’ book to shed light on the impacts of climate change in some of our nation’s most iconic landscapes.

“To create the work, Lines’ original digital photographs (and two historical national park images) were reduced to black and white, transferred to Stonehenge paper, hand-colored and then re-digitized by Simmons. This multi-step process created a selective loss of information and degradation, while the hand-colorization references and challenges romanticized landscapes from postcards produced when the parks were first mass marketed to early 20th century visitors. Lines’ handwritten captions — based on his field work in the parks— imagine the voices of park visitors over decades as they encounter changing habitats, receding glaciers, and drought-altered landscapes."

Artist Book Reviews: Visible Climate” by Levi Sherman

Visible Climate deluxe book
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Visible Climate:
Postcards from America's Changing Landscapes

By Rachel Simmons and Lee Lines
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2020. Unstated.

10 x 9" (25 x 20cm); 22 pages. Digital printing. Hardcover, perfect bound, with illustrated covers. Print on demand book.

Rachel Simmons: "This interdisciplinary project was completed in 2020 by Lee Lines (geographer) and Rachel Simmons (artist), colleagues at Rollins College who have collaborated on environmentally themed visual art projects since 2010. 'Visible Climate' is the product of more than 175 hours of field work in our national parks, researching and documenting climate change impacts, followed by a collaborative process of translating visual evidence into an artists' book to shed light on the impacts of climate change in some of our nation’s most iconic landscapes.

"To create the work, Lines’ original digital photographs (and two historical national park images) were reduced to black and white, transferred to Stonehenge paper, hand-colored and then re-digitized by Simmons. This multi-step process created a selective loss of information and degradation, while the hand-colorization references and challenges romanticized landscapes from postcards produced when the parks were first mass marketed to early 20th century visitors. Lines’ handwritten captions — based on his field work in the parks— imagine the voices of park visitors over decades as they encounter changing habitats, receding glaciers, and drought-altered landscapes."

Visible Climate book
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How to Speak to Birds
By Rachel Simmons
Penland, North Carolina: Rachel Simmons, 2018. Edition limitation varies by background used.

6" x 4.75"; 8 pages. Letterpress printed. Covers cyanotype on paper. Produced in January 2018 at Penland School of Craft, Winter Residency. Numbered.

Rachel Simmons: "How to Speak to Birds is a letterpress chapbook I created at Penland's Winter Residency Program, in which I adapted text from a 1940’s publication which introduced birdwatching as a hobby to 'young & old, outdoors-lovers & shut-ins.' Through my adaptation of the text in historical fonts and with engraved illustrations, I am encouraging viewers to relate to nature by considering the physical act of attempting to 'speak' to birds in their own language. This work distills birdwatching down to the simple act of adopting an active awareness of one’s environment, promoting the value of having a quiet mind which learns to listen before speaking. This work is part of the ongoing body of work, 'The Language of Watching'.

"The Language of Watching is a multifaceted project began in July 2015 during my time as the Artist-in-Residence at Constellation Studios, an independent community print studio in Lincoln, Nebraska owned and operated by Karen Kunc. The project is informed by my research into the social/political ramifications of bird representations in field guides, the history and culture of birdwatching, and the relationships between birdwatchers and birds, and more broadly speaking, between humans and the natural environment. FLOCK, a socially engaged art project, has evolved since 2015 to include over 200 community participants across the US. In a socially engaged art project, the 'art' is considered to be the interactions between participant-viewers & the artist. In my practice, I often make imagery or objects with participants as a mean to facilitate a shared dialogue about our connections to nature."

How to Speak to Birds book
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i see the backs of your hands
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2016. Edition of 8.

9.125” x 12.125” x .5”; 10 leaves. Unbound. Letterpress and screen printing on unbleached Mulberry paper. Enhanced with stitching across the leaves. In hard cover overlap folio with velcro closures. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Rachel Simmons: "I created this book after losing my father suddenly in 2015. The design & typography reveal aspects of our loving, but challenging relationship. The neutrality of the color, generosity of the negative space and the fluid line work come together to express feelings of fragility after such a loss.

"Typesetting for this book was a meditative process; it allowed me to focus on assembling words with my hands, letter by letter, as I worked through waves of anger and sadness. On each unbound page, the open, broken lines of text exist in a liminal space. Drawn and stitched lines add a tactile sensibility, anchoring these reflections about life and death into something tangible.

"Leaving it unbound was a choice based, in part, in wanting to display the piece floating on the wall. Visitors to the exhibition 'Transcendence' in 2016 walked past the installation of the sheets pinned to the wall with long silver dissecting needles, any movement of air causing them to flutter and settle. This interactive quality and the delicacy of these pages express the ephemeral, transitory nature of grief and loss. Stacked in the portfolio, the transparency of the pages allows text to be seen through the sheets and viewers handle each sheet one at time."

i see the backs of your hands book
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Never Flinch: a visual journal
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2014. Open Edition.

8 x 5"; 96 pages. Pictorial glossy covers. Perfect bound.

Rachel Simmons: "Never Flinch is an autobiographical visual journal that I published as a print-on-demand book in 2014. A visual journal is a marriage of writing and art; a playground for a busy, creative mind; an amplification of your inner voice; a record of your experiences; a regular meeting over coffee between you and yourself. Through a rich layering of mixed media drawing, printmaking and collage, this self-reflective journal immerses the reader in a colorful narrative about life, art, science, travel, and family.

"In my journal practice, I use a wide variety of materials and techniques. I write the text using a stream of consciousness, timed writing approach, and then visualize the writing through collage, image transfers, wax resist, linoleum prints, ink wash, acrylic, watercolor, drawing, and erasure poetry."
$26 Softcover
$40 Hardcover

Never Flinch: a visual journal book
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Rachel Simmons SOLD/Out of Print Titles:  

Based on your Current Trajectory
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2020-2021. Edition of 10.

Dimensions: 8.25” tall x 4.25” wide x 1” deep when enclosed and 17” wide x 8” tall x 2.5” deep when open and removed from enclosure. Relief, screen and digital prints on paper and board with adhesive label paper, punch labels, gesso and marker. Illustrations and text adapted from Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time.” Laid in a self-closing wrapper enclosure with magnetic clasp. Numbered.

Rachel Simmons: "This book began during the early days of the global pandemic as a meditation on the passing of time. At the beginning of 2021, I returned to the book, and began reading theories of space-time and time travel, eventually discovering the concept of the twin paradox—which asks what happens when one identical twin departs Earth to travel near light speed in through space and the other twin remains on Earth, aging normally. How do they experience time differently? How does time change their identities and relationship? From that point on, I focused creating a narrative about a time traveler seeking to understand the laws of space-time as they search for their lost twin, a story based on the real-life disappearance of my youngest brother, who hasn’t been seen since 2018.

"Aesthetically this book brings together my love of experimental mixed media printmaking and comics through an interactive flag book structure. By including illustrations of myself and a font made from my own handwriting, I sought to personalize the narrative like a visual journal. Unlike most flag books, this structure is meant to be laid flat on a table with the accordion spine down, then read by flipping each row of cards towards you from front to back while reading up and down or left and right. Once you’ve read either the red or blue sides of the cards, you can close the book and start from the opposite side. The duality and complexity of the structure echoes the difficulty of understanding our personal relationships and our place in space-time. "
(SOLD/Out of Print)

Based on your Current Trajectory book
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Conceited Rural Dandies
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2017. Edition of 15.

28” x 6” x 4” open, 6” x 6” x .75” closed. Accordion fold structure. Two leaves sewn into the valley of each fold. Materials: thread, vellum, watercolor paper and arches text wove. Letterpress, screen printing, and cyanotype. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Rachel Simmons: "The socially engaged art project 'Conceited Rural Dandies' reflects two essential ingredients in my work––community & environmental awareness. The edition was made in collaboration with students during the Paper Fox Printmaking Workshop at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. The project included a discussion of 1930’s field guides, a birdwatching walk along the Fox River and plenty of hours of setting type while discussing how Edwardian ladies’ hats helped birdwatching evolve from just a leisure hobby to a citizen-scientist conservation movement.

"To choose the text for the book, the Lawrence students and I examined the language from historical field guides, and found they were embedded with the values & perspectives of the birdwatchers who wrote them. While authors of historical guides assumed their audience to be fairly homogenous—mainly white, male & Christian—authors of contemporary bird guides use more scientific language to describe bird behavior. This linguistic shift reflects our ever-evolving attitudes about nature as an extension of our social systems. The screen prints of birds and ladies hats over vellum suggest fragility and preciousness, the cyanotype covers (made collaboratively with the students) references historical botanical studies, and the use of early 20th century typefaces forge a link between language of the past and present through the practice of letterpress. The image running along the accordion is a collage of bird names and images created from Lawrence University’s movable type collection."

Conceited Rural Dandies book
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Lovely Parasite
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2003-2020. One-of-a-Kind.

Gatefold opening. 11.5” x 16.75” x 6” open; 11.5” x 16.75” x .25” closed. Acrylic ink, xerography, typewritten text, collage on Okawara paper. Stab binding on each side with thread. Covers of painted paper over binder’s board. Signed by the artist.

Rachel Simmons: "Initially bound just before my daughter’s birth in the early years after 9/11, this project was shelved and unfinished for 17 years. It was intended to address my anxiety about having a child during an era of heightened political uncertainty and fear about terrorism, but when I became a busy working mom I did not return to it. As time passed, I was less inclined to revisit my difficult feelings about that time. Revisiting this piece in the present day, I see it as a meditation on the biological and psychological stresses of pregnancy— it’s doubled structure echoes a conversation between myself and my unborn child, and at times, between my partner and I. The ink stained pages, floating cellular and biologic images and text express a powerful mix of uncertainty, fear, loss of control of one’s body, along with fierce feelings of connection and desire."

Lovely Parasite book
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Merde Sur La Mer
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2008. One-of-a-Kind.

51.5” x 56.5” x 6”open. Accordion structure. Printed digitally on Epson Enhanced Matte and Okawara papers. Materials: acrylic ink, linoleum relief prints, yarn, board. Signed and dated by the artist.

Rachel Simmons: "As with much of my work, this artist’s book focuses on an aspect of our complex relationship with the natural environment, in this case, with the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean. In 2007, I spent a month at a residency on the big island of Hawaii. One day, another artist at the residency, Pam Longobardi, drove us all down to Green Sand Beach where we were shocked to discover huge piles of plastic waste piled up on an otherwise pristine coastline. I began to research the Pacific Gyre, a floating area of plastic pollution larger than the state of Texas in the Pacific, and created this artist’s book as a result.

"One of the things that struck me was the global nature of the problem, with so many countries contributing trash to the sea, but none willing to offer any resources to address it. The words stitched into the accordion mean 'shit' in several languages, and the book’s title (in French) translates to 'Shit on The Sea,' referring to the floating plastic waste on the surface and to the idea that humans are not taking responsibility for how their habits of consumption affect the health of the ocean. The bright colors reference lively sea life images you might see at an aquarium, but the objects floating in the waterline and hanging from the tangled lengths of yarn are tires, oil drums, plastic bottles, and other containers. The tangled net of objects is something I’ve used in other projects to refer to complexity, confusion, and a lack of clear solutions."

Merde Sur La Mer book
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By Rachel Simmons Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2014.

8” x 6” x 2.5; 140 pages. Altered book. Mixed media with gesso, acrylic, tape transfers, collage, graphite, screen prints, letterpress prints, and found objects. Includes pop-up elements and pockets containing information. In original dust jacket. Signed and dated by the artist.

Rachel Simmons: "In 2014, I created this altered book to reflect on my first visit to Namibia, a newly independent nation in southwestern Africa. The project, which took over six months to complete, was a rumination on Namibia’s emerging ecotourism industry, the impact of Chinese development, their successful political independence from South African, and their ongoing struggle to modernize one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world.

"The book I altered was a memoir written in the 1980’s by journalist David Lamb titled 'The Africans.' His narrative as a western journalist and humanitarian evoked perceptions of Africa from my childhood when many Americans viewed it only as place of pervasive hunger, poverty and war. Revisiting these ideas of past and present gave shape to my process of alteration. I brushed pages with either black or white gesso to both silence and emphasize the original text, and added collage and drawing. On the trip, I wrote journal entries as we bumped down long gravel roads along the Skeleton Coast. I photographed and drew Namibian tribespeople, villages, sand dunes, elephants, and shipwrecks and upon my return, placed these images into the book along with my written observations and reflections. "

Namibians book
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A review of this work "Rachel Simmons' work explores the economy and ecology of independence" by Yulia Tikhonova in the Orlando Weekly can be found at

The Oil Book
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 20010-2011. One-of-a-Kind.

14” x 10” x 6” closed, 28” x 10” x 3” extended. Accordion fold structure. Letterpress printed using French Clarendon typeface. Arches Cover paper and Japanese paper with acrylic ink, Sumi-e ink, gouache, pigment powder, thread, screen print, linoleum, carborundum, and transfer prints. Multi-needle coptic bound with hard cover. Signed and dated by the artist.

Rachel Simmons: "In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico; it took 86 days to stop the flow of oil into the water and the damage to the marine ecosystems was devastating. I witnessed the emotional and financial impact on my family in the Florida Panhandle and I wanted to better understand this terrible accident within the larger context of the history of oil exploration. Researching major global oil spills since 1967, I was not surprised to find that humans have spilled billions of gallons of oil into rivers, lakes, and oceans, and that many of the spills have gone unnoticed or even unreported. In other words, Deepwater was a catastrophe, but it was just another disaster in an industry riddled with disasters.

"The book uses French Clarendon, a typeface from the 1800’s for the text which repeats several times, 'rude crude spill will soak sea brown black clean green American dream.' These prints were created through layering letterpress, serigraphy and carborundum and then mounted in pairs on each spread. Each print was washed and splattered with ink to evoke the colors of the marine landscape and the alien quality of the invading oil. Each printed word is unique despite the repetition of the poem. The text is often obscured by images of the Deepwater Horizon rig. On each left-hand page, a quote from Karl Marx printed in black on black reads, 'history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.' A tangled mass of colored price tags hangs from the book’s spine, revealing dates and locations of the worst oil spills in recent history.

"In a way, the history of oil spills is similar; each accident varies in location, impact, and circumstance, but they blur together in the same timeline of mistakes repeated over and over again. This repetition prevents us from seeing the magnitude of each tragedy over time and encourages us to accept them as insurmountable disasters that cannot be reversed or avoided. The book was bound together in a marathon 12-hour sewing session using the multi-needle coptic stitch technique. Thickly bound with heavy paper and tangled with thread, the physical experience of looking through the book echoes the complexities and challenges that come with large-scale environmental disasters."

The Oil Spill book
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Summer 2021 - Spring2021, A Visual Journal.
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2020-2021. One-of-a-Kind.

9 x 12"; 32 pages. Hardcover stab-bound book. Screen-printed cloth covers. Mixed media pages with interactive elements. Sewn binding.

Rachel Simmons: "I’ve been journaling since I was a teenager and it has always helped me better understand myself and the world around me. This visual journal began in the summer of 2020 while my family & I were home during the first pandemic lockdown. The later entries were made in the spring of 2021 when I started teaching in person again. Each spread reflects a moment in time or an event in my life the heightened anxiety of the early days of the pandemic, the vitriol of the presidential election, packing and moving my family into a new house, and bringing my mom home from the West Coast to live with us, and learning how to teach & breathe while wearing a mask.

“My journal practice is my most immediate mode of communication. It usually begins with an intense writing session on my typewriter. As I look for ways to visualize my writing, I begin a process of choosing what to do next, making each decision rapidly one after another in a kind of slow state. Choices about where to place an image, whether to cut a window into a page, which paint colors to use, how to incorporate text as image; each micro-decision is a response to the previous one. After a spread is finished, I feel a sense of relief almost as if I’ve been heard even if the spread is about something terrible like the Capitol Riot. I am totally immersed in the process while journaling, aware of what I’m making, but free from my tendency towards internal critique, feeling greater freedom to experiment and fully express myself in the process.”

Summer 2021-Spring2021,A visual Journal book
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this celestial body
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2021. Edition of 5 variants.

Dimensions: 6.25” tall x 4” wide x .75” deep when enclosed and 6.25” tall x 8” wide when open and removed from enclosure. Relief prints on kozo paper, digital prints, found book pages, typewritten text on carbon paper, paint pens, colored pencils, water media and thread. Crown book structure with partial slipcase enclosure.

Rachel Simmons: "This book draws comparisons between the temporary experience of inhabiting a human body and the perceived permanence of celestial bodies such as planets and stars. But in our continually expanding universe, is anything really permanent? Why do we value stability when transmutation is all we know? Using found book pages from 'The Stars: A New Way to See Them' by H.A. Rey, an educational science book originally published in 1952, I exploit the tension between bodies, temporality, space and impermanence. Through repeated references to the infinite nature of circles and the use of lightweight, inconsequential materials, I’m encouraging the reader to consider their own personal histories carried within their bodies—-that briefest existence within the vastness of cosmic time-—with an intention to accept uncertainty and impermanence."
(SOLD/Out of Print)

this celestial body book
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Tracking B15
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2019. Edition of 10.

10.25” tall x 5” wide x .38” deep closed; 10.25” tall x 24” wide x .25” deep open. With wrapper cover. Materials: graphing vellum, paper and mylar with brass brads. Printing: letterpress, screen, digital printing. Drawings for the iceberg print by the artist in travels to Antarctica in 2008. Numbered.

Rachel Simmons: "In 2000, the biggest iceberg ever recorded, dubbed B15, broke away from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. The size of Connecticut, this megaberg emerged at a time when we still called climate change global warming. It was an ominous sign of things to come, but it was also a natural wonder that attracted a lot of attention beyond the scientific community. The last remnants of this mighty iceberg finally melted near the equator in 2018.

"The book blends real scientific observations with a fictional account from an obsessed fan that tracks the lifespan of B15 and its 'descendants,' i.e., the smaller bergs that broke away from the main iceberg during its 6,600 mile journey around the Southern Continent. Excerpts from the narrator’s journal reveal pet names for the bergs, an admiration for these artifacts of the last wilderness on earth, and a kind of sweet, oblivious obsession with B15’s story.

"Their excitement and joy is reflected in the colors I most associate with my memorable travels to Antarctica in 2008 and 2009—- juicy marine blues & the bright red of the outpost buildings. In many ways, the text is a meditation on the sublime. The way the narrator both fears and embraces the existence of B15 is another way of understanding the nuances of our broader relationship with nature. The interactive nature of the book’s mechanics—-the central wheel that spins, turning the notebook pages to reveal a photograph and opening the fold out map—- encourages readers to engage with the book physically as well and intellectually."
(SOLD/Out of Print)

Tracking B15 book
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We Do As We Please
By Rachel Simmons
Orlando, Florida: Rachel Simmons, 2009-2020. One-of-a-Kind.

Open 36” X 68” X 2”, Folded 11” X 13.5” X 1”. On Okawara and carbon papers with acrylic ink, letterpress, relief and typewriter. Signed by the artist.

Rachel Simmons: "After two consecutive voyages to the Antarctica Peninsula in 2008-2009, I spent some time critically examining ecotourism. As an emerging global industry with profound economic benefits and environmental challenges, ecotourism sells an experience of the wilderness rooted in the values of conservation, though not all experiences are educational and not all travelers are environmentalists. I explored my time as a polar ecotourist through the attitudes of my fellow travelers aboard the Lyubov Orlova (now a famous ghost ship). The map format of this interactive book, with its creases and folds suggests navigation and exploration, but once open, the columns of images appear to be a coded language of symbols related to travel and consumption. The repetition of image and text refers to the structure of organized group travel; the excursions scheduled around meals, the illusion of choice, and the compulsive use of photography to document every single minute.

"The phrase, WE DO AS WE PLEASE and the carbon paper typed poem on the back side of the map, reference the power of wealthy global consumers to travel just for pleasure. The images symbolize carbon-intensive modes of travel, food, fuel, photography, single use plastic, polar wild life and other choices we can make to retreat from climate change or innovate around future travel. My continuing interest in ecotourism lies in how we reconcile these competing ideas— the value of our individual travel experiences versus the preservation of wilderness."

We Do As We Please book
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Page last update: 08.21.2023

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