I am both a scientist and an artist. I use art to investigate and dissect the world around me. Art allows me to understand and connect with things by exploring the associations between ideas and images. Sometimes creating work feels like discovering what was always there beneath the surface, and other times it feels like inventing whole new universes in which my art can live. My work is heavily influenced by my formative teenage years spent in an alternative science centered high school, where my art was limited to dissection drawings and microscope illustrations. My understanding of how things worked was not complete until I drew it in some way. When I started making art as an adult I always came back to these technical and biological themes and I enjoy using these images in a creative way, merging art and academics.
I mainly work with encaustics, which is bees wax mixed with dammar resin and powdered pigment. I’m attracted to encaustics because it’s so organic and ancient, dating as far back as the 5th century BC. The medium itself is both flexible and wildly unpredictable, which leads to a lot of experimentation and discovery. The process of painting with encaustics is both technical and creative which allows me to walk the fine line of scientist and artist. I collage drawings, paper cut outs, and objects in the wax while simultaneously incising, scraping back, and adding layers which I fuse with heat and flame. When planning my pieces I work creatively, but with a scientific mind frame, first studying, then experimenting and abstracting images to uncover the essential idea of the subject. Some of my plans for paintings are inspired by my old biology lab manuals, anatomy books, and insect collections. Other ideas come from natural things I see around me, especially while running outside. Many times I’ll come back from a run with my pockets full of seed pods, leaves or weeds which I’ll sketch and study.
I’m currently interested in using natural imagery as symbols for transition and identity. The seed pods and chrysalises symbolize becoming, the present, teetering on the cusp of what you could be. The clearwing butterflies are portrayed as outlines, unfinished ideas of butterflies, symbols of the future and planning. They are often portrayed with nests and webs, homes that are unnatural to them, prompting the question if “nesting” is a trap. The spindly weeds are dormant flowers and plants. Not dead but waiting for spring and another chance. The beetles and bees stand for the often opposing forces of teaching and creating, academia and art, left and right brain. Insects and plants become totems that represent parts of my identity and journey I can only express through art. What will I become? What kind of a home can I create in this world? Can a person really start over? Am I an artist or a teacher? I might not have the answers, but my imagery guides me to ask the questions.