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As social creatures, we humans are compelled to assign emotions and feelings to animals based on their outward appearances. However, the actions and mental processes of animals are driven largely by instinct, governed by the most basic biological drive, namely survival. Despite our desire to “humanize” animals, what happens inside of their brains is largely opaque to us. In my recent work, I exploit this paradox by presenting animals gazing at the viewer in a way that is simultaneously engaging and unknowable. In some of the works, I also incorporate man-made elements that emulate things in nature to further underscore the tension between the natural world and facsimiles of the wild.

Working with encaustic presents challenges in attempting to make the media conform and create desired outcomes. In the action of repeatedly taking the wax from solid to liquid and back to solid, there are moments where control is relinquished and my vision of the final piece must be revised. By leaving the natural wood of the panel showing through the wax, I maintain a connection to the origins of the piece.