Rachel, one of the fabulous coworkers at The Garden, is a writer, editor, and doctoral candidate in art history at Columbia University.
We talked with Rachel about her beliefs, her work, and the difficulties of finding great childcare.
Tell us about your work.
I am a writer and editor, and I’m currently a doctoral candidate in art history at Columbia University. My dissertation project concerns the architecture of what I call “televangelical space” — the broadcast churches and mediated rituals associated with several postwar ministers.
What are your core beliefs? Your passions?
I believe in family and the Earth. I am passionate about writing and reading, and about fiction as a way of knowing.
What’s a recent novel you’ve read that you’d recommend?
This year I loved Rachel Cusk’s trilogy — the three books are Outline, Transit, and Kudos. They’re stunning; I’d recommend them to anyone! Cusk gave me a great way to think about what it means to write “from life.”
What kinds of work do you mostly focus on while you’re at The Garden?
Sometimes The Garden is the perfect place for sustained writing — in the last months I’ve written a dissertation chapter about what’s called “faith healing,” and the Oklahoma evangelist Oral Roberts. When I’m feeling less focused, I tend to use my hours to work on an editing project; I do work for an academic journal of Renaissance history and for a German art book publisher, among other clients.
How did you first learn about The Garden, and what do you love about working there?
I don’t remember how exactly I learned about The Garden — I suspect it was in a frenzy of frustrated online searches for quality childcare that didn’t involve a years-long waitlist — but I do remember my incredible relief upon discovering that it existed. My son, Theo, loves playing downstairs and talks about his friends there all week. I love that. I love that we can have lunch together in the middle of the day. I love that I don’t have to choose, then, between being productive and being near my child. I also love having the chance to work in a neutral space that is neither my own home, with all its distractions, or a university library, with its own specific pressures.