Road Stories

Rachel Hellner’s work examines various aspects of our relationship with the environment. In “Road Stories”, her latest collection of paintings, drawings and mixed-media works, Rachel explores car culture, carelessness, and the disposable nature of our society. In 2005 she began to document roadkill to show the impact cars have on animals that must share their habitat with our ever-expanding road network. She portrays the animals just as she finds them. Ironically, the poses are often serene and peaceful; mostly they appear as sleeping pets or as an animal at play. Showing the animals’ beauty, even in death, is is a way Rachel feels “honours” their lives.

Sometimes when Rachel would stop to document a new find, she would find that her subject was actually a discarded glove, shoe or rag. She was struck by the fact that the highway “debris” was all treated pretty much the same. It was mostly ignored, and left to decompose — one “object” no more important than the other.

The exhibition features, on reels of an antique slot machine, miniatures of her work. “I thought a slot machine was an ideal way to illustrate the ‘randomness’ associated with which animal was unlucky enough to cross a road at the wrong time.” Her intention, she says, is twofold: to use art to show that beauty is everywhere, including places we least expect it, but also to make a statement about how we are responsible for the deaths of countless beautiful animals, and how little we appear to care about it.

While some people might feel that she is treating the subjects irreverently, Rachel hopes that the images will make her audience think about how every day actions like driving a car have an adverse effect on our natural environment.

Rachel Hellner: Road Stories.

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