Creative Statement – VISCERAL
I am making drawings of gut piles from game animals such as pronghorn, deer, and elk. The work is a natural progression from previous creative research exploring personal and collective fears and anxieties. The impetus for depicting these subjects is my interest in the ethical implications involved around the act of hunting and in the consumption of animals more generally. Although I am part of the hunting community, I am trying not to be didactic or moralizing with the work in any way. Instead, my aim is to be visually poetic, drawing attention to conflicts in the human condition and asking viewers to question preconceived notions on all sides of these and adjacent issues.
I continue to examine ideas of low and high status in artistic subject matter as well as normative experience. These drawings may illicit feelings of disgust or revulsion and awe or ecstasy simultaneously due to the contrast between the vulgarity of the imagery juxtaposed with its meticulous rendering. This effect is what I refer to as a kind of reverse sublimity. I am also thinking about how base bodily functions, like eating or mating, are intensely strange, grotesque, and almost alien when thought about in a certain context. Nevertheless, nature compels us to engage in and relish these activities since our continued existence depends on it.
There is a connection between the works’ form and content in terms of fragility. Charcoal, made of once living things, is a tenuous medium at best, prone to structural decay over time, while animal viscera, left in the field, is absorbed back into the ecosystem almost overnight. Both are deeply ephemeral concepts in relation to life, death, and the precariousness of existence. I am also challenging tropes in western art more broadly by depicting these animals from the inside out as opposed to the romanticized versions one sees in countless landscapes throughout history. As opposed to documenting the hunt through a posed picture, or “grab and grin” as hunters may refer to it, I choose to honor the animal by documenting less utilized aspects of their bodies in a symbolic attempt to let as little as possible go to waste.