Wall - A Resting Great Pelican

Rachel Wall
College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Master’s)

A Resting Great Pelican

Living an itinerant lifestyle, I claim nothing more than the immediate land beneath my feet as home. I hold a B.A. in English writing from Carroll College, Helena, Montana, and I am pursuing an M.S. in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. My academic background speaks to my nature as a “lover of words” or a logophile, a word coupled from the Greek roots log–, meaning “words, “and –phile, meaning “love.” Since early memories, I have believed that words that steal readers to different times and places, invoking vivid images in their minds and rousing emotions in their hearts, are the most effective forms of communication. However, at a time when anxiety and melancholia usurped my words and silenced my voice, an unexpected urge to draw emerged, allowing me a new communication style. This time of silence lasted for five years while serving in the United States Marine Corps (USMC), where I weathered muted days as a minority, a woman in a male-dominated, misogynistic environment. In those five years, I confided my frustrations to my twin sister, who was also serving in the USMC, enduring the same plights as a woman in the military. Unfortunately, communication between us was not always possible, especially during deployments where she convoyed the dusty plains of Afghanistan in a Humvee, and I floated the vacant horizons of the Pacific Ocean on an aircraft carrier. With a dire need to connect with her, I began drawing birds, for she was a “lover of birds” or an ornithophile, a word coupled from the Greek roots ornith–, meaning “bird,” and –phile, meaning “love.” Using a telepathic medium, my drawings reunited us when thousands of miles spanned between us.

The medium of my drawings consists of two simple tools: drawing paper and artist pens. Because I began drawing during my deployments, the minimal space in my sea bags afforded me little room to bring lavish items such as art paraphernalia. I folded my uniform around my sketchpad and placed my pens inside my Kevlar to keep them from being damaged. I value these two items’ simplicity because they are tools that almost anyone can find, whether paper in a junk drawer or a pen on the floor. Before serving in the military, I attempted to be a part of art communities but often withdrew because I believed I lacked the unique or abstract qualities to create memorable art. Being “good enough” is often a barrier that keeps emerging artists from sharing their pieces with the world. Therefore, I share these drawings for two reasons. First, to encourage anyone to transcend their words through visual displays when their voices are silenced. Second, to inspire anyone to produce art, even if they lack the means to purchase the tools found in art studios, for the most significant art stems from the tools we inherently possess: our imagination and desire to communicate.

Artwork Description:

After my two-year tour in Japan and return to the United States, military culture consumed nearly every aspect of my personal life; it was a dissatisfying feeling I did not know how to eliminate as long as I served in the USMC. Though I began drawing birds to communicate with my twin sister while we deployed in different parts of the world, I realized after our deployments that my drawings connected me to other aspects of the world not consumed by the military culture. The pelican at rest represents the calming experience I received through my engagement with art.