We spend our lives in completely regulated environments. Strange and unseen currents dictate the narrow framework that we navigate daily, and occasionally, just occasionally, rail against. My large oil paintings of hissing wild animals reclining on domestic carpet patterns depict the untamed spirit forced to reside within its cage.
When politicians deceive me, when my insurance company denies my claim, when someone hollers out of a car window at me I wonder why these aggressors are not afraid of me. I am terrifying. Then I remember that, like most of us, I'm unknown and powerless. I believe that many of us see ourselves as tigers and have a hard time reconciling those feelings of inner potency and ferocity with the knowledge that others see us as so much less, as just a bunch of animals. My paintings depict the dualistic nature of the formidable beast within the pet.
Declawed is also a tribute to those who hate the circumstances of their lives. Many encounter barriers to the life that they desire, and so they check in day after day at jobs, relationships or other situations where they know the do not belong. Nor do my wild predators belong where I placed them, but they've become so acquiescent to their domesticity that they have begun physically interacting with the patterns of their environments and have even begun sprouting human attributes. The only animal that has a chance of escaping its perverse situation is the tarantula, thanks to a tear in the crochet that confines it. Its accomplices stand guard. They know that they cannot escape their fates, but hiss and growl at anyone who dare interfere with the spider’s impending getaway.
Animals have been used as symbols since the beginning of humanity. I choose to paint them today because I trust in the validity and efficacy of that tradition. The exotic, fearsome animals depicted in Declawed are as unfamiliar and frightening to us as the prospect of living beyond our sheltered framework of routine, custom and etiquette. Though my beasts are forced to exist within the domestically decorated borders of the canvas, the fierceness of their roars defy us to tame them.