Briar Roses

Froelick Gallery- September 2013

In the Grimm’s story Briar Rose, the cursed princess and all the occupants in the castle are protected through their 100-year sleep by a thorny briar wall that grows so high as to obscure all sight of the buildings. All potential rescuers become trapped and die in its thorns. In Rapunzel, the brambles below her prison tower mean blindness for the prince savior when he falls into them, and Belle from Beauty and the Beast is beholden to the beast for a rose. In so many tales nature is not only a beautiful backdrop, but a critical character full of meaning and motive- poison plants to kill, thorny brambles to enmesh whole lands, and flowers as warnings or tokens of love. It lacks the accepted beauty and innocence we attribute to it today.

I find fascination with the darker side of nature portrayed in these stories, and discovering their relevance to our own world today. Limited resources of water, land, and light allow the survival of one species to the detriment of another. Slight shifts in balance can change the entire dynamic. Nature as chaotic and unpredictable with complex lines of right and wrong is not an inappropriate metaphor for the human condition of struggle, violence, and unexpected beauty.

My drawings have their origins in a long lineage of botanical drawings and prints, from early medieval herbal books of primitive woodcuts, to the masterful engravings of insects and their host plants in the 17th century South American Dutch colony of Surinam by Maria Sibylla Merian, and the contemporary artist Cornelia Hesse-Honegger who renders insects from areas surrounding nuclear facilities and their resulting deformities. This particular group of drawings began with a concentrated focus on observation and my own process of drawing, specifically the use of line to imply surface and space. Some of these drawings are not unlike portraits. I manipulate an image to find an essential balance or asymmetry within the evolving composition. Complex organic forms act as vehicles for exploring my formal interests. While working, I draw plants from life in an attempt to impart a sense of gesture and emotion.

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