Elizabeth Heatwole, Contributing Writer
Quietly sequestered within the confines of The College of Wooster’s Ebert Art Center lies a world of botanical fantasy. The most recent exhibit to grace the Art Museum’s Burton D. Morgan Gallery is one that is fittingly reminiscent of spring and the renewal that accompanies it.
“Lake Valley,” an eight-minute film by artist Rachel Rose, combines studio art with animation, following a family’s rabbit that undergoes a quest while dreaming. The work is the definition of mixed media, as the story is propelled in front of a backdrop of paper flowers, ink and collage, all meticulously pieced together by Rose. Animation is introduced through the twitching motions of the rabbit and acts as a mechanism to bring the film’s collage aspect to life.
As the short film opens, one is met by an animated scene of average family life. However, the film quickly progresses into a world of fantasy, exemplifying the breadth of visual discovery within Rose’s work. The rabbit explores a dreamscape that stands in stark contrast to its suburban home. Colorful creatures creep along the underbrush of paper greenery, and unfurled flowers present themselves as larger-than-life, filling the screen to greet the audience. The collage functions as a means to further the plot of “Lake Valley,” evoke emotion and provide visual interest. “I learned about ‘Lake Valley’ by Rachel Rose as part of my research on artists for Essential Matter which closed April 2. All the artists in that show strategically source and transform the materials from which their work was made, however the new artworks continue to draw meaning from the original purpose of their materials,” said Museum Director and Curator, Dr. Marianne Wardle.
Constant scene development engages viewers, aided by gentle sound effects. “Lake Valley,” a film without dialogue, enhances its journey through sounds of bubbling water, rustling foliage and the noises of animals. Though a story with lighthearted visuals, “Lake Valley” focuses largely on drawing a connection from the characters to the audience by presenting a commentary on seeking new experiences as a solution to loneliness. Existing below its surface of beautifully crafted visuals and comforting audio, the film is influenced by children’s literature and psychology. Kayla Stevens ’23, Museum Assistant and Programming intern, commented on the combination of factors within the work, saying, “You can approach and engage with the film in different ways.”
Along with an overarchingly peaceful experience, “Lake Valley” perpetuates the world-experience of a child through its shifting perspectives, moving audience members from third person to first person perspective in an effort to emulate the feelings of young children as they navigate an adult world. Rachel Rose’s 2016 short film is multi-hyphenate in its ability to both stand alone as a work of art, encompassing childlike wonder and to pose deeper questions that probe the mind of the viewer. “Lake Valley” is on display at The College of Wooster Art Museum until May 14.