I started making art in the mid-1990s, focusing on photography and mixed media. Now years later, as a scientist in my everyday life, I’ve found I still crave a space for art. I’ve continued with mixed media, and as I developed a love for growing plants, I wanted to incorporate it into a form of art. I gather the floral and faunal offerings of my surroundings throughout the seasons, whether at home in the Midwest or traveling across the country, to create imaginative representations of the outside world. This has also become a collective form of art, as friends and family find and gift me with natural items they find attractive to include in my work. I remember who gave me each piece, and where it came from around the world. I collect, organically preserve, and compose each item in my natural portraits, creating an intersection of seasonality and ecosystems.
The aesthetic of my art is a reflection of my merged expertise – I delicately mount each item using the traditional tools of specimen display, merging my interests in both art and scientific observation. This process of searching for these tiny objects in the world, and considering how to relate them to one another in a finished art piece have required me to slow down and pay attention to the environment, which even in an urban space has much to offer: magical niches of mushrooms hidden under fallen magnolia leaves at my grandmother’s home, or a collection of moss glistening with dew by a baseball field. For the audience, the final art piece beckons them to do the same thing- take the time to look at the tiny details and whimsical architecture of each composition.
Images provided by Cris Hughes.