Artist Statement

I gather and document the orb webs of Pacific Northwestern orb weaver spiders on porcelain, often on functional, everyday objects, encouraging daily reflection on the beauty of spiders.

My practice begins for me with my garden, the habitat I cultivate to attract and sustain the flourishing community of orb weavers whose silkworks I gather throughout the season. That the environment that feeds spiders, bees, beetles, and centipedes also nourishes my family speaks to the interconnectedness of all living things. I seek to decenter the human and imagine a humanity that cherishes all species. I work against stereotypes 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 experience my practice as rooted in traditions of scientific illustration, a tradition that resonates with me on many levels.

– Scientific illustration  is a type of civic 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 fossil documents of the ephemeral silkworks 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.