Naturalia: New Paintings & Drawings

“Two-headed Hereford, (Alva, Oklahoma)”
oil on panel, 2012
9″h. x 12″w.

For the past few years, I have been at work on a series of paintings informed by my interests in natural history, 19th and early 20th century illustration, 17th century painting, and wunderkammern – early art and natural history collections that are the precursors of modern museums.

In the collections of the 16th and 17th century, objects such as preserved animal specimens were displayed alongside small, finely rendered paintings. I am fascinated by this easy marriage of objects, now completely separated by taxonomic developments that began during the Enlightenment. These early collections can be viewed as microcosms, in that they attempt to represent the whole of the world on an intimate, human scale. They allow viewers to recognize the connectedness of seemingly disparate objects, and possibly their own connectedness to the natural world.

Collections can also be viewed as a kind of storytelling. The arrangement of objects and the objects themselves are embedded with narrative. These narratives are often as much, if not more, about the collector than the objects collected. I have made multiple long-distance moves over the past few years. As part of the adjustment process post-move, I learn to identify the animals present in my new environment. It’s comforting to know the names and habits of the new creatures I see when I don’t know much else about my new home. These animals and the stories I’ve invented about them often make their way into my images.

As a child growing up in and around Chicago, I was fortunate to visit the Field Museum of Natural History on a regular basis. I can remember being completely transfixed by the taxidermy dioramas glowing with their soft, yellow light in the darkened museum rooms. The fact that you could stand and look as long, and as closely as you liked at the creatures’ beautiful bodies, allowed me access to pure wonderment. The endless variety of color and form was and is beautiful magic.

Brandice Guerra received her B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute, Chicago, IL and her M.F.A from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “Naturalia: New Paintings and Drawings” will be Guerra’s first solo show with Zg Gallery in Chicago and will be on exhibit from April 10 to May 30, 2015.

Naturalia: New Paintings & Drawings
April 10 – May 30, 2015
Opening Reception: Friday, April 10, 2015, 5:30 to 7:30
Artist will be present.

Zg Gallery
300 W. Superior St.
Chicago, IL 60654
T. 312-654-9900
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10-5:30 CST