Artist Statement

     My creative work begins as a response to the images scattered in my memory that remain potent and seek connection to my current surroundings.  The wrinkles of a walrus hide share characteristics of the cracked folds of my grandmother’s skin. The exposed backbone of a gutted, dead seal evokes the vulnerability and emptiness felt ending a relationship.  Animals, much like objects, can be imbued with meaning and sentiment that goes beyond their familiar existence.  As I see it, the animal is an ambiguous vessel for story telling; their personal lives, thoughts, and feelings are unknown to us.  Creating animals and their body parts as sculptural objects allows me to explore the detachment and isolation I feel from this aspect of nature, yet still connect to my own personal life experiences.  

     This curiosity surrounding unfamiliar, elusive animals comes from a sense of wonder, empathy, and sincere longing for an encounter with these creatures in the natural world.  Museum wildlife displays and taxidermy dioramas act as artificial experiences that create narratives through the viewer’s observation and speculation.  This re-creation of once sentient beings into inanimate objects produces an unsettling encounter of stillness and disconnect. Through their transformation, the animal remains physical and their story oddly lives on, saving them from the tragedy of being forgotten.  While such practice carries morbid implications, it also has the ability to fascinate and inspire awe.  Their inanimate and often fragmented presentation invites introspection into our own bodies and surroundings.  I find interpreting animals as objects can evoke expansive and expressive stories with the openness to discover common threads to our own behaviors and beliefs.  As an act of preservation, each animal I create as an object can represent a significant emotion, experience, or relationship that is no longer tangible in everyday life. 

“A Part of a Place, Moose Mount” ceramic, paint, stains, graphite, wood, foam, wheels. 2015. Photo by Michael Conti