A beautiful lil’ extra tid bit of the Reader article - this is writer Sarah Nardi’s original version of the piece, which is much more eloquent than what is going to be printing - thank you for all the kind words Sarah!::
The reality of print is that there’s only so much space. Posted below is a mere fraction of what the artist deserves:
There are days when it seems possible to have it all. All – the proverbial carrot dangling just out of reach, the perfect alignment of circumstances that will finally fill any voids in our existence. All is the promise cast out on life’s horizon. Work hard enough, we’re told, want it bad enough, and you can get there. You can have it all.
Bullshit. There’s no such thing as all. It’s the chupacabra terrorizing the countryside of our consciousness, forever making us feel that we’re failing in some regard. And thank god for that, because perfection is boring. Failure is what makes life interesting, and art is born of the attempt to quell the loneliness and uncertainty that failure inspires.
Take cartoonist and illustrator Rachel Foss. In the past few weeks, she’s been hit by a cab, taken a spectacular fall on the ice, and “roofied”. As in a stranger dropped Rohypnol in her drink. On Valentine’s Day. The paramedics were called when Foss passed out in her bathtub where she’d been angrily eating carrots. That is, in the parlance of the millennial modern day, a series of epic fails. But on the night that “This Was Supposed to Help” opened at Beauty and Brawn Gallery in Logan Square, it finally seemed like Foss’s stars were aligning. The gallery was packed and her work, exhibited for the first time, was selling. Making things even better, Foss’s longtime crush was in attendance. After the show, he asked her out for a drink. Professional validation. Financial gain. Romantic victory. That, my friends, is having it all.
But then Foss’s crush ditched her at the bar, without explanation, leaving the newly lauded artist to stew in the corner like a spurned girl at a high school dance. “All” slipped out of reach and Foss was left with half. She didn’t have to tell me that. She didn’t have to admit that despite professional success, she still experienced failure. But it’s important to her to reveal her vulnerabilities – to admit that within the course of an evening, one can be reduced from a confident artist to a confused girl. Because that’s the truth, and Foss wants us know it.
Foss’s spare, often melancholy drawings, explore the faint joy and casual injuries of everyday existence. Through her work, which is not difficult to read as autobiographical, she exposes herself as someone who is looking for love, yet not defined by the search. She acknowledges the despair that a silent phone can inspire, as well as the satisfaction of initiating an anonymous sexual encounter. She presents herself with all the complexities and contradictions that an identity entails. Foss openly admits that she’s trying, but still falling way short of having it all.
Much of the work in the show, curated by gallery owner Lindsey Meyers, are only fractions of long-form projects – individual pages pulled from comics like Foss’s self published “Empty Bed.” For Foss, it’s a little strange to see her work like that, devoid of larger context. I think it’s an intriguing introduction to her work. A fragment of the story, a snippet of the narrative – that’s the most we understand of people anyway.
It should be mentioned that “This Was Supposed to Help” also includes the work of Scott Marvel. His work is excellent and deserves to be seen. But here I only had room for a fragment of the story, and I wanted Rachel Foss to have it all.