Press for MOTHER:
GLASS Quarterly: Hot Sheet

For our final exhibition at 516 West 20th Street, Rachel Owens brings her signature process of casting shards of broken glass in resin to a little known yet seminal specimen of nature. The bulk of this mostly sculptural presentation is made from molds of the Alley Pond Giant, a 400-year-old tulip poplar tree located in Queens that could well pre-date European settlers. It is the oldest living thing in New York City. She renders strips of its husked skin in colored glass sourced from closeout bulk suppliers of mass produced bottles imported from China, a nod to the earliest large-scale production in colonial America (England’s strained forests could not sustain enough glass bottle kilns). The dimensions of each piece are limited by the reach of the artist herself, bringing a human scale to this monumental being. Owens states “The fortitude of the tree to withstand the development of modern society reminds us that there was always someone before and is also symbolic of migration, mothers, and spatial occupation.”
In addition to the prominent sculptural elements is an audio component consisting of the communication trees make when in need of water. Based on research by Dr. Peter Wohlleben and recordings by Dr. Alexandre Ponomarenko, the accompaniment is an endearing botanical telegraphy of awkwardly rhythmic knocks, plinks and plonks. Further reiterating a quietly maternal pulse underlying all we take for granted as a species, this poignant exploration pushes the installation toward a total work of art, as wall works on burned canvas with sloganeering as searing as WE ARE THE GRANDDAUGHTERS OF ALL ​THE WITCHES YOU WERE NEVER ABLE TO BURN  and as pointed ​as the singular MOTHER.
The New Museum and the Frist Center for Visual Arts in Nashville, TN have featured the artist, and other public commissions include the Krasnoyarsk Biennial Russia, the NYC Parks Department, and the Austrian Cultural Forum (NYC). Press includes The New York Times, The New Yorker, Art in America, and The Wall St Journal. She received her MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and lives and work in New York City.