etching and watercolor
23 x 27 (18 x 22)


Briony Morrow-Cribbs

It is through differences that we contrast ourselves against our animal counterparts. Observing our ability to develop language and capacity for abstract thought, we define ourselves by the places we diverge. By creating such delineations, similarities such as the experience of inhabiting a physical bodily form are overlooked. If we look at animals through the lens of what we have in common it reveals parts of ourselves otherwise hidden. By looking at animals from this vantage, we can identify a place where we find ourselves simultaneously linked and detached to the other creatures that inhabit this world.
This menagerie is an exploration of the categories, “human” and “animal” and the intersections between the two. The work uses groupings of animals inhabiting a psychological space usually identified as the domain of the human: emotional interactions and complex relationships. What happens when familiar “human” sentiments are portrayed in the space between two animals? Can we continue to define ourselves in opposition to a scene that is charged with the delicate nuances of passion, shame and excitement? And why do we often reserve animal imagery to represent us at our “worst”?
The processes of copper plate etching and hand-tinting have proven ideal for the realization of these concepts. Using the visual language of scientific objectivity and employing an intricate system of dots, dashes and concentric lines as well as hand-tinting, my method references early naturalist engravings. Viewing these scenes, a moment of subversion may occur, where sensations of disgust meet those of longing, documenting the moment where the monstrous moves between revulsion and desire. A moment where boundaries are blurred and identification and classification are denied. 


*Artist portrait by Nick Wilkes

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