Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
McDonald , Todd
Wrangle , Anderson
My work reflects my interests in drawing, illustration, science, and culture. Being born and raised in desert suburbia, my environment consisted of small middle class homes in a grid of roads and sidewalks, punctuated by small pockets of natural landscape. However, as I watched then, and as I still see now, many of the things I have come to love and appreciate about this environment are disappearing before my eyes. As people's values change, so does the natural and unnatural landscape. The natural things are replaced with our own excess, everything needing to be larger, louder and flashier, all so it can be flaunted and showcased before others in materialistic display. And yet, amidst our best or worst attempts to eliminate the wild, free and beautiful things of this world, Nature finds a way of prevailing, as the living things around us adapt to the changes that we cause. It is these characteristics of adaptation that become the theme of my work.
However, where my work could focus on the negativity of these inevitable changes in the world and the gross negligence of our responsibility to the earth, I choose to focus on the humorous and even beautiful aspects of our clumsy interactions with our environment. I want my work to increase our awareness of Nature again, to tell its story in ways that capture our attention and captivate us once more.
By using conventions of natural history illustration, animation, and traditional printmaking techniques, I create bodies of work that examine the tension that exists between the realm of domestication and the realm of the wild. Photographer Amy Stein, describing her work in her Domesticated series, states that, 'We at once seek connection with the mystery and freedom of the natural world, yet we continually strive to tame the wild around us and compulsively control the wild within our own nature.'
By creating scenes that are both heavily manipulated and imaginary, or by exaggerating a subject that is based on fact or observed reality I can reflect our perception of Nature. We view Nature through a filter that is romanticized or skewed in a way that suits our purposes and obscures its harsher realities. Only by presenting what we think we know about our environment in a new way, often with the animals representing us, can I encourage my viewers to rethink their own behaviors and feelings toward the natural world.
Miller, Jennifer, "Creatures of Habit" (2010). All Theses. 1019.