2018 Charismatic Megafauna


My most recent body of work, titled “Charismatic Megafauna,” consists of a series of three-dimensional, anthropomorphized versions of some of the animals native to the Arrowhead region of Minnesota, where I live. I made them out of textile, wire, foam, and ceramics, bringing the materials together for a final aesthetic that is something like Beatrix Potter meets the French Revolution. Conceptually, my work deals with the question of agency from the imagined perspective of animals, and hopes to shed a little light on the unstable nature of power in the contexts of both environment and class. I think the perception within the developed world of having “mastered” the earth is undergoing a transformation as we find ourselves contemplating things like the loss of coastal cities to rising sea levels and our culpability for a sixth mass extinction. As in a revolution that transpires when a subservient class finally reclaims their agency with violent force, my recent work imagines an underrepresented class of animals that finally seizes on a dormant or long disregarded power. Still, I don’t want this cast of creatures to come off as an unambiguously virtuous social movement. We have all seen how latent fears can be used to leverage political change, and animals – like people – are nothing if not survivors, willing participants in the unstable dynamics of power.