Who would have thought such grace and form could come from doing yard work? Rachel Wilson, a young, full-time mother, gives style and movement to the osage orange branches she collects on her Avilla, Mo., crop and cattle farm. Animal forms—horses, deer, bears—are her favorite subjects. “There is a certain grace in watching an animal that just tempts me to try to capture it,” she says.
Wilson does have some formal training; she spent a couple of years as a studio arts major at Missouri Southern State University before leaving to start her family. But her organic sculpture is mostly about natural intuition and trial and error. Finding the right wood pieces takes days, then it’s off to the workshop to build the form. Wilson begins by creating a crude oval, drilling and screwing the branches together. The animal’s limbs are added next, with frequent tests for stability. “I try to capture the flow from the limbs to the body so when you view the finished piece, you see the subject first and then all the pieces involved in its structure,” she says. A coat of sealer makes the finished sculptures appropriate for outdoor use.
Wilson’s work ranges in price from $300 to $20,000. She is planning two solo exhibits at the Titanic Branson museum in Branson, Mo., in 2011. She is also represented by Artique Gallery in Lexington, Ky., and Cherry’s Custom Framing & Art in Carthage, Mo.