Strange Specimen

When I began my master’s program at MICA this past summer, I had a newfound freedom to explore. I was on sabbatical from my job, had ample studio space, and the mandate to take artistic risks. It was awesome! And more than a little terrifying.

Well, start with what you know, right? I often create the illusion of transparent objects in my oil paintings. At my mentor’s suggestion, I began painting in acrylic on translucent vellum to explore transparency in a new way. I found that the slick surface helped me explore the materiality of paint. First I would simply play with paint on the surface: dripping, splashing, brushing. Once the paint was dry, I allowed the natural drips and flows to inform the biomorphic shapes I cut out.


Cutting and collaging allowed my work to explode off the canvas. As I overlapped and inserted protruding shapes into other shapes, I composed scenes that referenced petri-dish specimen, human anatomy and microscopic life.

Strange Specimen, Acrylic on Mylar, In-Progress Studio Install, 2016
Strange Specimen, Acrylic on Mylar, In-Progress Studio Install, 2016

Through this work, I’ve thought a lot about the inspiration that nature provides me. Humans are driven by curiosity. To understand the mysteries of nature, we dissect and try to recreate – one day prototyping a bird’s wing, the next, building a jet. Each invention, each discovery, brings wonder and fear. My art alludes to the beauty of biology, yet prompts the viewer to confront fear and disgust at the often absurd and humbling mechanics of the body. I explore the complex relationship I have to my physical self as a part of nature – a force that’s beyond my control or understanding. As our bodies and the choices we make about them are increasingly debated and politicized, it feels so important to explore these emotions and share the experience with you. View all images of “Strange Specimen” …at your own risk.

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