Katherine Sheehan

I have always been mesmerized by animals. One of my earliest memories is of creating elaborate drawings based on the engravings of birds and animals I saw in the dictionary. From Apteryx to quagga, I was captivated by all of them, and I still feel this way. I have continued my close observation of nature in my visual work. I still feel the wonder and joy of my earlier self when recording the infinite variety of the natural world. However, the conflicted relationship of human and environment means now informs me when I think about nature. I am now inspired by the imagery of mourning and remembrance.

Trained as a printmaker, I work in layers I create deposits of visual information in my work, combining drawing, painting, printmaking, and collage, and using such materials as pastel, watercolor, gouache, sumi ink, Asian papers, beeswax and thread, all on paper. Pastel is an especially important component as it expresses the vivid color, delicacy and fragility of the endangered species I portray. Birds, animals, and flight patterns are combined with digital and hand-drawn signifiers of the man-made world, including architectural elements, maps, navigational systems, scientific diagrams, and decorative patterns. The unique handmade mark and images printed in multiples are part of my investigation into the balance between the natural world and the man-made world. I use these motifs to question whether nature and mankind can co-exist peacefully anywhere besides my work.

My work is an elegy to what is irrevocably gone, and what is disappearing in the natural world. Historical natural history images entertained and educated viewers about animals, plants, and places they had never seen. My work is a contemporary natural history chronicle, illustrating the vanished and the soon to vanish. The sheer unbridled abundance of the natural world can be overwhelming to us, but we are inextricably connected to this order of things, bound by the same universal laws. We are not separate from nature. We are nature. My art asserts the richness and fragility of the natural world, and the intertwined fate of man and the environment.