Taking Care

Taking Care is a participatory installation and performance in letters and thread. This durational and ongoing project devoted to care and listening explores letter-writing as an act of care and a bond of human connection directly connected to slowing down, taking time to take care, with our words and for each other. In Taking Care, I invite participants to write me a letter that recounts an act of care, large or small, that they have received. As recipient of these letters, I offer to intimately listen and to care for their stories, embroidering the words onto fabric in an approximation of their own handwriting and making publicly visible our often-unseen caring labors. The quiet, slow practices of letter-writing and embroidery require extended time and attention. Rather than squeezing this art-making into stolen fragments of time, I carry out this project in episodic form: I dedicate a series of short, intensive periods to listening and embroidering, at artist residencies and other locations. These are not necessarily solitary ventures; I also welcome others into a shared space of conversation, handwork, or letter-writing, if they wish to share a story of care received. What is important for me in these periods is to spend focused, extended time with the words that have been so generously shared with me and to display the embroidered fabrics so that these stories from the past might serve as guiding lights that remind us of the importance of care in our present and future relations.

Taking Care debuted in 2018 at Flutgraben in Berlin. The second residency took place that same year at Upominki in Rotterdam. 2019 residencies took place at Borough Road Gallery in London in June and at MASS MoCA in November. 2020 plans were disrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Taking Care happened in isolation during my Hoping You Are Well exhibition at the Salina Art Center in December, and resumed contact with the public during a residency at Art in Motion in Holdingford, MN, in June 2021.

07_Buller_Rachel_Taking Care project launch