I am a perpetual student of nature. My explorations have taken me to physical places such as tide pools and forests; my learning has been broadened by museums and books. I am filled with wonder at nature's beautiful, horrific, bizarre and puzzling intricacies.
In 1992, I saw my first “curiosity cabinet” at the Royal Palace in Prague. These cabinets, sometimes called wonderkammen, gained popularity with a new breed of collectors during the Renaissance, becoming the precursors of our modern museums. Originally a hobby of the elite, the collections became publicly accessible when showmen like P.T. Barnum monetized these collections by scattering them internationally. It was wonderful to see the Prague collection, intact and still in all its chaotic glory. A large étagère dominated the room with curved glass doors and shelves crammed to the top with objects. The collection was jumbled with no clear order; stuffed birds, statues, coral, an animal’s paw, dried flower specimens, a shrunken head, turtle shells, a dried puffer fish piled one on top of the other, vying for attention.
The curiosity cabinet symbolizes to me the connections found in disparate areas of nature that rely on a delicate balance. As we have found through science, the decline of one small aspect of natural can have a domino effect on many other ecological worlds. The pictorial subject matter in my work, aquatic life, insects, avian life, flora and fauna are not normally viewed in the same natural settings. And yet they are inherently interdependent. Our care for the environment should be the same: as I care about protecting the nature that I experience in my own habitat, I must also care relationally about the greater system of biospheres constitutes the Earth. This requires a degree of play in terms of scale and affinity.
All the images are hand painted on a zinc plate and printed by many runs through the press. The original paintings are monochromatic and have been enhanced with color layered using viscosity techniques. Often the ghost of one image is used to begin the next print.