Rachel Foullon’s Cold Cuts was developed through her Workspace Residency at Dieu Donné. Rather than creating a sculptural piece with actual weight and dimension, she opted for a contemporary take on trompe l’oeil, exploring the medium of paper and its potential to depict weight and objecthood.
Cold Cuts is composed of three separate pieces: a pressed camellia blossom, a thin slice of a tree trunk, and a braincase. Each piece may be framed individually in a clinical white shadowbox designed to highlight the object-ness of what Foullon has captured in paper pulp. The frame serves as a wunderkabinet’s vitrine and also a scientist’s petri dish.
Departing from her usual mode of working three-dimensionality, Foullon concentrates on presenting her chosen forms as the objects they are in reality, keeping their scale true to life, however seemingly sliced, pressed or even steamrolled so that they now exist on a completely flat plane. The concern for a consistent method of production led Foullon to use techniques including shaped papermaking deckles. Other operations allowed for variation, such as spraying a light mist that either completely removes or pushes around the pulp on the surface of the sheet. To create the growth rings of the tree and colored specks in the camellia flower, Rachel used thin mylar stencils, laid upon a shaped base sheet to allow pigmented linen pulp to seep through.
Cold Cuts pays homage to the vanitas. Taking their lead, Foullon’s contemporary still-life presents three objects frozen in time as a reverie of life’s bloom and brevity. The camellia and the tree trunk are identifiable as reproductions of actual objects. The braincase is a more obtuse anatomical reference. It is the part of the skull that houses the brain, and is often the only section remaining when a very old human skeleton is discovered. Ideas about human creativity and imagination reside here as well. Cold Cuts is at once a reminder of where we are going, but also of where we have been.
Born in Glendale, CA, Rachel received a B.S. from New York University and an RMFA in 2004 from Columbia University. She now lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.