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Rachel Simmons ~ Florida

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Artist's Bio: "Rachel Simmons is an artist-educator who teaches foundations, printmaking, and book arts at Rollins College … . Rachel began teaching at Rollins in 2000 after earning her MFA in Painting & Drawing from Louisiana State University. Her diverse practice is informed by the 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

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. "

Based on your Current Trajectory 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."

this celestial body 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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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."
$480 (Last 3 copies)

Tracking B15 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:  

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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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: 10.04.2021

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