For Adrian Arleo, "the word 'nature' can be expanded to refer to human nature, (o r) psychological states, and 'character' in a narrative sense." Arleo's hybrids are interwoven elements that establish benevolent, empathetic bonds between plants, animals, and humans. In Hatchlings, a feral human/bird form emerges from a seed pod or egg. From another view of the same piece, the egg form transforms its shape to appear as the new life's unfolding wings. "The images are meant to be open to interpretation, allowing each viewer to respond with experiences, feelings, or dreams from their own life." In Arleo's works, humans are reminded that they are an integral part of nature. Her visual stories suggest that we are part of a "primordial, greater-than human force" which can compel us to higher psychic realms.
The distorted, dismembered bodies of Adelaide Paul's horse forms are often united with rusted, found-metal parts. She lias chosen this form as a"stand-in for the (human) body". When these bodies are merge with metal scraps, as in Prosthesis, they become new beings that are ambiguous, as-yet-unconceived fruits, organs, or medical apparatus. Richly textured, organic, and colorful glazes "act as an aesthetic counter balance" to these perverse hybrids. The pieces insinuate that an artificial contrivance is not a satisfactor substitute for the connective tissue which bonds humankind with nature. Nevertheless, Paul says, all creatures evolve, transmute, and change: we cannot know the future of
Neil Forrest grafts images of insects into planes of stratified colored clays, which in turn are set into large, flat serving trays. His insect images are" filtered through the beauty of decorative language, but, in reality, insects are often bothersome, even frightening, and certainly perceived as ugly." He finds himself forming a new relationship to the natural world as he portrays it through decoration."Its contemplation demonstrates the proximity of beauty to ugliness." Our various readings and interpretations of nature are incongruous. Cultural production enables us to become aware of these contradictions. Forrest seems to assert that we need culture, perhaps we created it, to better decipher and understand our relationship to nature.
Fragmented, discarded, and found elements from industrial production and nature are assembled by Chris Weaver to create dioramas and composite figures. In the human form of Birdwatcher, a mud dauber's nest begets the form of a bird and in turn a human shoulder, a tree trunk stands in for the human trunk, and the shape of a sheet metal appendage simultaneously references a hand, a flame, a flower. Topped with a human head form, this compound human body is woven of parts from plants and animals, suggesting that we are all made from the same fabric. Yet Weaver's assemblages can also unsettle, ambiguously placing animal forms in the contexts of human detritus and scientific observation.
What do we know of flora and fauna -the animals, and our more distant relatives, the plants - and what do they know of us? As a member of the animal kingdom, yet the only extant species, sapiens, in our genus, Homo, humans are solitary beings in our system of scientific classification. With one foot set in culture, and the other in the animal kingdom, humans occupy an enigmatic place in the world. These artists probe the finely threaded but loosely woven gossamer connecting nature and culture.
Engaging the medium of ceramics, the artists create “hybrid forms” which explore human relationships with nature, culture, plants and animals.
Plants, animals and our perceptions of them surface in KCAI's 'Flora & Fauna'
In her own work, Esser is inspired by ornament but does not copy it.
"Flora and Fauna" is an elegant show of sculptural work in clay which incorporates plant and animal imagery.