That Space Between Flying and Falling

I spent last week in Boston, and went to see Rachel Mello’s new work at the Laconia Gallery. The pieces in this show are cut silhouettes of cityscapes painted with clouds, hung from the ceiling so as to cast shadows on the walls, on each other, and on us as we walk through them.

She called the show That Space Between Flying and Falling. I was immediately filled with regret that, as a poet, I had not thought up that phrase. It applied in the first place to the artwork, but then like a good poem it opened out – into the moments full of possibility in anyone’s life. It is the gardener with the seed catalog in her lap, every flower and fruit she’s ever thought of ready and waiting. It is the poet before the poem. The whole world is open at that moment, and you are free, untethered. Your plan might fly, your plan might fall – this is the space where every possibility is open. Even falling can be positive: you can fall in love; you can fall into a run of good luck. Or of course you can fall on your face. But you begin, because you can hold out for infinite potential only so long before it’s time to plant the seeds or lose any garden at all. You begin, and the options of all the other windows start closing.

Rachel’s silhouettes perpetrate the magic of holding that moment open. They are paintings, rich with brushstroke and highlight, but not framed nor on a wall. They are sculptures, meant to be seen hanging in space, but they are flat.

garden gate

Garden Gate, detail with shadow

They are cut in the shapes of urban landscape, but their surfaces are painted entirely with skies. They have one side painted in the full, voluptuous colors of a stormy sunset, but the other side is painted in greyscale. They hold my imagination open, and in the space between flying and falling the garden of my dreams and the poetry of my garden take shape.

If you’re in Boston between now and December 18 you can check it out. The gallery’s website is


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