I’ve recently found myself drawn to art that simply, honestly makes me happy. After years of looking at and blogging about all manner of darque art, all I crave right now are images that make me feel like a child – not in the helpless sense, but in terms of wonderment and the belief that the world is a magical place that opens up to me. Earlier this week, I mentioned that Hirotoshi Ito’s sculptures that had that effect on me, and now I’ve uncovered someone else whose work makes me feel this: Amy Ross.
On her blog, NatureMorph, Ross imagines herself as a mad scientist. As she writes in her artist’s statement:
My drawings offer visual hypotheses to the question: what would happen if the DNA sequence of a plant or mushroom were spliced with that of an animal? Using graphite, watercolor, and walnut ink on paper as well as directly on gallery walls in site-specific installations, I portray animals morphed with branches, mushrooms, berries, and blossoms, thus forming implausible hybrid creatures. These images subvert the traditional genre of botanical illustration by approaching the close study of the natural world through the lens of genetic engineering and mutation gone awry.
I’ve seen similar ideas before – in paintings, in fiction, in taxidermy – but Ross’s gentle treatment feels somehow different, familiar. Perhaps the explanation for that sense is as simple as these pictures reminding me of illustrations from a long-forgotten storybook, or flashbacks to picking mushrooms as a child (a common family activity in Russia). Could I have stumbled on one of these, at an age too early to remember, before it scampered out of sight? One can hope.
Sketch of a tenrec