Brooklyn, New York
"I grew up surrounded by redwood trees and mountains, by the cold Pacific Ocean and the endless fogs that come with living along the north Pacific current that comes down from Alaska. It was on the northern coast of California where I grew up that my love for nature, mythology and animals flourished. I spent my childhood hiking and camping and at a young age I was taught to respect and love the natural world. In my work I am giving an ode to the natural world I love, the forests and mountains that nourished the fantasies of my childhood.
My work alludes to the boundaries that separate humans from animals both physically and metaphysically, and how these boundaries are warped by new scientific data, mythology, history and religious beliefs alike, blurring the lines between us as science, religion and culture clash over what it is to be human, and thus, what separates us from the beasts of the wild.
I am fascinated by the way in which people personify or objectify animals; the way in which the human view of an animal can render it into an object of utility, or a trustworthy companion, or a monstrosity, regardless of that creatures true nature. It is this dichotomy that I aim to reveal in my work, the ‘real’ animal versus the abstract animal as it exists in the human mind, an animal mutated by social constructs and mythology alike. The symbolic meaning attributed to different species correlates directly with how they are treated in the real world; which creatures are protected and which are not, which are vilified, which are adored, and which are ignored altogether. Whether or not the symbolic meaning humanity has assigned any given species has any relation to reality is not important to most people, it’s the symbolism that matters, the ability to use the animal to suit our own needs, to reach our bottom line. We use the boundary between ‘us’ and ‘them’ to determine an animals fundamental worth, all based on our own desires. It is this process of transforming the animal that inspires my work, and gives it its often dark undertones.
I create pseudo-mythical, mutated, and anthropomorphic creatures using ballpoint pen and watercolor as my primary mediums, almost exclusively on paper. With my work I attempt to capture the often volatile human-animal relationship. I am faced with the fact that we live in a planet in decline, where nearly every natural ecosystem in the world is withering away. Human kind has created a planet of refugees; animals forced to flee ever farther from the insatiable encroachment of urban development, victims of a war for space which they cannot hope to win.
My drawings refer to this decline and to the refugees it has created. I am left with the question of what is natural; are we (human beings) still a part of nature? If so, does that make all that we have created, cities, vehicles, factories, all technology, part of nature as well? As we try to separate ever more from our primal nature, will we be able to still see and understand the importance of other animals and our relationship to them? " - Caitlin Hackett