A Way of Life by Stephanie Hargrave

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Biota 1

At Shift Gallery, Jan. 5-28, 2017

A Way of Life

Biota. A succinct word that describes, in part, what Hargrave tries to capture in her work. Biota is the plant and animal life of a particular region or period – from the Greek biote meaning way of life, or bios, meaning life. With this broad definition in mind, she also focuses on the botanical and the biological, using cellular references, nods to DNA, genes, synapses, neurons. The work for her show entitled Biota unfolded over many months, but her art practice is a way of life – one that continues to challenge and push her toward ever finer technical ability and greater meaning. Her encaustic paintings remain depictions of the marriage of biology and botany, but specific focuses often develop out of situations, random things she happens upon, or really anything she reads about that made her wonder.

The Velocity Series in Biota was inspired by an article about a small bug – a planthopper found only on English ivy. Two scientists in the U.K. discovered this tiny insect that had evolved a mechanical gear, enabling it to jump extraordinarily fast. A human being would be utterly destroyed if catapulted at the same velocity. Her imagination started a slow jog and then it flew. She worked for months with this bug happily perched on a branch in her mind, and the paintings began referencing insects. Wings, hives and swarms began to appear, as did both industrial and botanical elements. Others pieces were simply an abstract depiction of the ‘jet wash’ she imagined these bugs left in their wake.

 

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