Rachel Carson (1907-1964) - ecologist | science writer
Rachel Carson, a marine biologist, writer, and editor, became the most influential and trusted science writer in the country. Carson followed her passion for science by earning a M.S. in Zoology and working as a feature writer for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. At the age of 28, she was the primary financial support for her family and later two young nieces. Carson's books on the sea were international bestsellers. Published in 1955, The Sense of Wonder is Carson’s timeless gift for teaching children and adults about the magic of nature. After becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of pesticides, she wrote Silent Spring in 1961. She warned of the misuse of chemical pesticides, especially DDT, and the perils of humans controlling nature. Carson's writing helped launch the environmental movement. Battling breast cancer and crippling pain, she testified before Congress calling for new policies to protect the environment and human life.
“The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life.”
“Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?”
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
Carson, R. (1962). Silent Spring.
Carson, R. (1951). The Sea Around Us.
Carson, R. (1955). The Sense of Wonder.
Souder, W. (2013). On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson, Author of Silent Spring.
Sisson, S. (2018). Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement. (biography for children)
Heidi Marohn - Artist Statement
Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, is widely considered to be the catalyst of the modern environmental movement.
During the 1940s and 50s, devastating consequences–--infertility, disease, and death–--of using chemicals indiscriminately and in excess to eradicate unwanted insect populations had been steadfastly documented. These observations, however, were isolated as single reports in small government publications.
Trained as a biologist, Rachel Carson had the vision to envision what the effects of this well-meaning but misplaced chemical application meant for Earth and humanity. She had the foresight to gather the reports, analyze them with her scientific eye, and synthesize a report in Silent Spring that the public could easily read, understand, and be apprised of the catastrophic dangers happening right under our noses.
The flora and fauna pattern format behind the medallion comes from both the Otomi in Mexico and Scandinavian folk art. Its format repeats along a vertical axis, like a nerve line, which is exactly the system insecticides attack. The silhouetted images that make up the pattern hearken from case studies cited in Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring.
Rachel Carson bore no children in her lifetime, but she had a tremendous nurturing spirit towards the natural world, as well as a desire to share its wonders with her fellow humans, especially children. The intensity of her cherishing the Earth compelled her to act.