Rachel Watson is a contemporary artist currently living in Hayesville, NC.
Watson attended the University of North Georgia, and received a Bachelor's Degree in Studio Art with Concentrations in Photography, Printmaking, Textiles, and Weaving. Watson received her MFA from the University of Georgia in 2020.
Watson, a native of Georgia, spent her childhood creating and exploring, which has continued into her adulthood. Watson works in a variety of mediums including printmaking, alternative, traditional, and digital photography, weaving, textiles, jewelry and metalwork, video, woodworking, and installation. Watson’s current installation work is driven by her research of primary sources and is comprised of labor intensive multiples. She has installed her work and spoken at two Georgia Disability History Symposiums as her work deals with the neglected patients at Central State Hospital.
Watson is currently renovating an elementary school from 1928 into an artist residency and concert venue.
My work focuses on the forgotten, the neglected, the abandoned. It focuses on the people who were uprooted from their homes and admitted into a place with a horrifying reputation and the fear they must have felt. The buildings that they lived in; that they died in, that forever changed them are the subject of my recent multi-media exploration of a well-known, defunct mental institution, in Milledgeville, Georgia.
Central State Hospital (1842-2010), like most mental institutions of its time, has a very dark past. Yet, my work does not criticize the facility. My extensive research of this institution, primarily conducted at the Special Collections Library and the Georgia Archives where I read handwritten notes, patient registrars, newspaper articles, and a variety of booklets and schedules, has made my relationship to this place complex and multifaceted. I think about the individuals who lived here while I walk the grounds and document. Whether represented through drone photography, super8 videography, plaster casts, silicone molds, or alternative photography, the people that walked these halls are always on my mind. Therefore, my work aims to document this site before it is torn down and to individualize the patients. These people were given numbers and left here by friends and family, but my work hopes to give them their identity back and finally put them at peace - to let people know that they were not forgotten in life and in death.