Artist’s Statement

Posted on Friday, July 17th, 2009 by Eugene

hornbill-tbnI create work that blurs the distinction between the hand of the artist and historical artifact, between scientific documentation and childhood fantasy. The viewer’s encounter is always about parsing truth from fiction, documentary from hoax, accuracy from obfuscation. I expose the cognitive dissonance between the way we think the world is, and the way that it turns out to be. I am particularly interested in the botanical, zoological, and geological histories of particular locales and ecosystems; I am equally interested in historical narratives and works derived from them. My current preoccupations include the politics and psychological implications of the natural history diorama, which I deconstruct and play with extensively, and the pseudo-scientific fields of cryptozoology and intelligent design, which for me represent fascinating glimpses into the human psyche through their attempts to describe a world based on longing rather than evidence.

Narrative is essential to my work, which nearly always involves textual backstory, whether evident in the finished product or merely as a conceptual framework. From the lives’ work of obscure Nineteenth Century naturalists, to the folklore of northern Wisconsin, to the measurement systems used to construct Egyptian pyramids, to payment schedules for plantation workers in Sri Lanka, I spend exhaustive amounts of time collecting and manipulating information that contextualizes the visual experience. My practice is fueled by my own extensive travels, particularly in Oceania, Asia, and Africa.

I situate my art practice at the intersection of the bodies of knowledge of natural history and evolutionary biology with everyday life and ordinary experience. I see this as paralleling the illustrators of medieval bestiaries, called on to recreate real animals they themselves had never witnessed, relying instead on the faulty memories of travelers to inform their vision. As we move through any space, natural or constructed, we are surrounded by narratives that are shaped by the culture, time, and place we live in. Some are explicit; others are simply implied. Ultimately my goal as an artist is to pull apart and expose those narratives in ways that tell us something about ourselves as we re-assemble them in our heads.