I gather and preserve the ephemeral silk works of female, Pacific Northwestern orb weavers on porcelain. Making functional or wearable forms on a historically "royal" material, I encourage daily, interactive reflection on the majesty of spiders.
I seek to decenter the human and imagine a humanity that cherishes all species. I work against representations in dominant media of spiders as dangerous and women as fearful. Orb webs are spun almost exclusively by female spiders, and I experience them as kindred mothers, hunters, and makers. I hope my work expands human sensations of kinship beyond the illusory borders of humanoid bodies.
Each season, my practice begins with my garden, a habitat I cultivate to attract and sustain a flourishing community of orb weavers. One space that feeds spiders, bees, beetles, centipedes, me, my partner, and our child is an inaugural, unifying and foundational installation.
I blend numerous traditions, practicing at the intersections of wildlife farming, ceramics, printmaking, natural science illustration, citizen science, feminist science studies, and performance art.
Scientific illustration is a tradition that resonates with me on many levels.
– Scientific illustration is a type of citizen science. Grounded in methodical observation of our surroundings, it is something that all of us do to some extent instinctually. Further, to observe and represent our surroundings with care is a political act, especially in an increasingly post-truth world.
– Scientific illustration illuminates the rich interdependence of science and art. Scientific illustrations are precise. They map to a material world. As Natalia Wilkins-Tyler says, “You really have to work on training your eye to draw what is actually there instead of what you see.” But also, scientific illustrations speak to our subjective experience, encoding and evoking human sensations of the beauty, magic, mystery, and wonder of the natural world.
– Scientific illustration has a long history of being what Luíseach Nic Eoin describes as a “side-door into science” for women, as it allowed women to conduct scientific work “through application of skills and talents society felt it appropriate for them to have,” in particular “artistic ability.”
– Scientific illustration has experienced a contemporary resurgence in part through its practice by women tattooists, like Katy Weidemann.
Cumulatively, these trace fossils of the otherwise-always-swiftly-vanishing silk works of orb weavers make up a growing dataset. Sometimes, I think they are bound for a dystopian future of ecological collapse and global extinction. Amid the ruins, these sacred shards remain.
Other times, I think I am from a utopian future. I came back in time to help make it come true. I am prefiguring it now by loving spiders.