My art practice engages with our culture’s relationship (or lack thereof) with the natural world. This relationship is a complex one—we need it, we revere it, we protect it, and we also destroy it. But above all, we have separated ourselves from the natural world, though we have a simultaneous desire to connect with and return to wildness. In my work, I explore how these barriers and desires manifest themselves in our lives and our society.
For my recent series, Housebroken, I have been photographing unusual pets in their domestic environments. Some people are drawn to create a relationship and share a home with creatures like snakes, bearded dragons, hedgehogs, and ferrets. The pets are fascinating animals, to be sure, but their relationship with the owners has an element of ambiguity—it is not as clear and established as the companionship and comfort offered by dogs and cats. Why choose to make such strong and intimate connections with these odd creatures? What does the owner find so alluring about a snake, despite the fact that it does not return the owner’s affection in a way we could recognize?
In my series O Pioneer, I create miniature landscapes using fake fur as the land substrate. The resulting series of large scale photographs hearken back to the pioneering Western photographers of the 1800s, in a tongue-in-cheek manner. These photographers, such as William Henry Jackson and Carleton Watkins, surveyed the West in North America and brought back stunning imagery of splendor and bounty. Much of my imagery is directly borrowed from these historical photographs, while some simply reference the genre. The odd fur-lined landscapes in my photos are in some ways as otherworldly and foreign as those brought back by the surveying photographers—images of strange rock formations, geysers, pristine waterfalls, and wide open plains.