Terra Incognita (in progress)
Terra Incognita, started during a 2021 residency in Iceland, where I was inspired by the local folklore, history, humor, and darkness imbued in the culture, specifically centered around the idea of fantastical animals and their relationship to humans. This subject matter relates directly to my previous studies of how natural history and science plays into the collective perspective of the monstrous in a long-standing view of the world as anthropocentric. I believe the dialogue of connectivity and accountability needs to be furthered now more than ever in the face of climate change and overuse of resources; a revisiting of our relationship with nature must be had in order to make these broader issues personal and meaningful.
This a series explores the subversion of anthropocentrism throughout cultural history and symbolic meaning, and in turn celebrate the unknown and uncontrollable elements of the natural world. Themes of biodiversity, extinction and extirpation, resiliency, and interconnectedness are used to evoke a sense of the fantastical and absurd contrasted with child-like wonder and humour. Questions of monstrousness, humanity, physicality, sustainability, transcendentalism, and sense of place inform the content.
The concept of the parallel universe is represented here as an allegory for presence in spite of the incomprehensibility of time. By portraying segmented figures melding in time and space with nature, the sublime is reimagined as a sense of exploration of the body and the mind, considering the infinite possibilities and an inconceivable capacity for experience despite a singular existence.
From a young age, I have been fascinated by the mutability of the natural environment, and by the overwhelming sense of displacement of mind and body within a chaotic universe. Having been immersed throughout childhood in a remote community surrounded by rugged wilderness, I grew to conflate the beauty and horror of vulnerability with the quiet resonance of undeveloped landscape. The magnitude of these feelings would eventually become untenable, and after lapsing into a prolonged state of dissociation that would last for over a decade, the mere act of perceiving the natural world had become an oppressive force.
By exploring ideas of healing from trauma, and by equivocating the Romantic sublime with contemporary mental health issues of self-awareness and empowerment, I aim to capture the experience of learning to reconnect mind and body, and find agency using the wilderness as a conduit. The content of the paintings includes scenes from my own backcountry expeditions, melded with lucid dream imagery and historic symbolism in order to pictorialize the sense of adrenaline, urgency, and awe that I experience while venturing into the remote places I have relearned to love.
THE BEAST IN ME
“A kiss is the beginning of cannibalism.” – Georges Bataille
There is a strategically pursuant nature to the ways in which people relate to one another. We are emotional predators, and we are physical prey, chasing, luring, devouring and nourishing each other. Our roles as active and passive people are always in negotiation, and these roles often exist simultaneously; or rather, our position in either role is constantly oscillating.
This series explores emblematic images of the hunt from a deconstructed methodology. From a survivalist, defensive, opportunistic, primal, and evolutionary point of view, these paintings represent human intimacy and the drive to mutually consume each other.
ALL IN A SEA OF WONDERS
"I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt; I fear;
I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul.”
Learning to live with fear has been the ever-evolving consequence of my childhood, and accordingly, the foundation of my adult life. The complex system of external, internal, tangible, and perceived dangers brought on throughout the journey of life must be constantly negotiated within the mind’s eye in order to survive, and also to thrive as the director of one’s own life. This negotiation is only possible if we are able to explore our fears, thus subverting them, taking control and willingly facing terrifying obstacles with open eyes staring brazenly into the darkness.
For this series I have pieced together and personalized several archetypal images, using my research in Jungian psychoanalysis of folklore and fairy tales to create allegories of fear, exploration, and transformation within a world of chaos. The scope of the work, as with many classic fairy tale and mythological narratives, honours those curious and brave enough to dive into the belly of the beast. It is only through adversity and unsettlement that we can expect to grow and transform. Our readiness to become aware of the dangers in our path, and our willingness to acknowledge the darker elements within ourselves are the keys to self-discovery and allow us the opportunity to find beauty in fear, chaos, and the unknown.