Self-Portrait as John Wayne (2016)

Self-Portrait as John Wayne (2016)

Artist Statement

I am a painter and sculptor interested in anthropology, animal studies, and gender studies. Through my art practice I attempt to dismantle the supposed divide between nature and culture, and investigate whether the word ‘natural’ still holds any value when our relationship to non-human life has become so obscured by human dominance. By creating a binary between nature and culture we also set up hierarchies. We have categorized, organized, and assigned value to every form of life, including ourselves. Humans are animals, and we are reliant on the earth like every other species.  When we try to separate ourselves, and deny our dependence on nature, we leave no space for wildness, and no space for lives, relationships, and actions that do not fit neatly into either category.

In my work I blur this boundary, and create situations where symbols of nature and culture collide. These collisions expose our animal reality, and the hypocrisy of our binary systems. Frequently, I use images or physical pieces of animals in my work and place them in what we might consider to be a distinctly human scenario, often this scenario depicts violence or distress. This switch of human and non-human highlights our shared experience as animals while also referencing the many ways humanity has been stripped from those who do not fit within a narrow definition of culture.

I don’t believe that a person’s mind can be opened or changed through a single interaction. When I think about how my own opinions were formed, it was through many small learning moments over time, or moments that made me pause and realize that there was something I didn’t understand. I would like my work to operate in a similar way. My objects and imagery are intentionally confusing and often disturbing, but the objective is to plant a seed in the viewer’s mind, and to create an image that will be remembered. My work proposes an acceptance of our animal reality, and an end to our futile, and often destructive attempts at control.