I appreciate that wild animals are greatly influenced by human activity and that humans are changing the very nature of animals. Representing them in my artwork is my way to honour their instinctive ability to survive and adapt, and to acknowledge the impact we’re having on them.
Most of the animals that I depict are canids, bears, and other ‘beasts’ that are frequently reported having encounters with humans along the west coast of Canada. I have several streams of thought that I pursue in my practice, however all of it comes from a place of acknowledging humans impact on the natural world.
With my Spirit Animal series, I have adopted the use of colour as a symbolic way to relay the ‘degrees of enlightenment’ that an animal goes through as it continually encounters changes to its environment and safe spaces, and has to adapt in order to survive. With these works, the more colourful the animal, the more adaptation it has gone through.
With some of my other series and exhibits I examine wild animals as a basic motif and consider how our use of animals as part of our personal identity can be at times fun and amusing, while also incredibly sad, as the link between the actual animal trying to survive in the real world is so easily replaced with superficial likes and depictions of animals that we collect for our homes (including artwork).
I am often conflicted as I make work about animals and consider the fact that despite the sentiments and intentions, I am actually creating more stuff that can have a negative impact in the world, including (in a roundabout way) the subjects that I admire so greatly. I feel this is a matter that all animal and nature based artists grapple with, and in fact this very struggle to reconcile the contradictions in our society has pushed my art practice into some interesting projects, some of which haven’t been shown yet as they’re very nature is controversial and deserves dedicated attention that I haven’t yet been able to dedicate.
Balancing my creative purpose with wanting to give back and perhaps reconcile in some small way, in early 2018 I began my artist in residence project, where I select a new animal conservation group to partner up with annually and through the partnership I dedicate some of my work towards exploring the animal issues that are most pertinent to them as a way to raise awareness and funds to support the real world work they are doing.
As I am most influenced by artists whose work has a direct connection to the real world - art with purpose and social commentary - I am always seeking to create work that appeals to fellow animal lovers, story tellers, investigators of our current shallow culture, and those who want to relate and express in a deeper way that we are not separate from the natural world, we are part of it.