Tooth & Claw
May 2, 2019 6:00 pm - May 3, 2019 9:00 pm
Remaining almost completely unchanged for millions of years, the Order Crocodilia has brought both dread and mystery to the minds of mankind for centuries. From the mighty Saltwater Crocodile to the nimble Gharial, Crocodilians have long been the root of folklore, belief, symbolism, competition, and celebration. While some cultures hunt and farm them, others have regarded them as deities such as the Egyptian God Sobek, who created the Nile River and controls the fertility of the soil. They have also been the animal of origin to the legend of the dragon and the leviathan in many cultures, floating silently in the water akin to that of the beasts of the sky. Tooth and Claw explores the many interpretations of crocodilians, and brings focus to an animal that has been a fixture in human legend.
Curated by Angelica Raquel, Tooth and Claw features artists working in a variety of media and from different places and times all imbued with humor and tactile conceptual amalgams of master artistry to make a fun and enlightening show of imaginative beasts. Artists included are John Atkins, Rachel Gardner, Roberto Benavides, Sarah Fox, Jules Buck Jones, Loc Huyhn, and Angelica Raquel. Tooth and Claw not only brings to question our relationship with Crocodilians, but with that of nature and our imposing and changing presence on this world.
Applying the crocodilian to their practice, artist Statements for Tooth & Claw:
For both these pieces I wanted to explore socio-political issues through human relationships with the American Alligator. “Drain the Swamp” is a commentary on the current state-of-affairs and how Trump’s America is a land where everyone is out for themselves, and it is only a matter of time before they turn on their own. “Florida Man vs Alligator” uses rudimentary imagery and by taking great pains to make a crude picture through laborious methods, the seemingly pointless endeavor highlights the absurdity of the image and content.
For as long as I can remember the crocodilian has fascinated me. From folklore, to sightings at local ponds and parks, alligators and crocodiles had a strong presence in my childhood. To me, they were haunting with their beady yellow eyes, large teeth, and shiny textured skin. The mere mystery of them when they could not be seen intrigued me as I imagined they were ruling the waters of the underground world. My art focuses on the things that both frighten and captivate me about the crocodilian. Skins, bones, and teeth as well as the secrets of the swamp were the inspirations behind my work.
Alligators and crocodiles are creatures of appetite — voracious and terrifying. A powerful jaw lined with sharp, seemingly endless teeth opening to a soft, vast gullet. I wanted to take this power and give it a female form for the show. In a short horror animation, humorous but poignant, the gator girl is a character with a destructive appetite. She holds patriarchy’s ignorant fear of female sexuality; while also serving as a tale of power and revenge for the embodied female.
I am drawn to the fantastical style of medieval illustrations of mythical beasts. With a focus on form, color and texture, these old illustrations are brought to life for a new audience through a seemingly unrelated medium, the piñata. However, the more one looks into the history of the piñata, one will find that the piñata has roots that stretch not only into mesoamerica, but into the western and eastern world as well. The blending of medieval western source material with this Mexican cultural form further deepens the complexity of the piñata’s history and parallels my own cultural identity.
Humans have a tendency to want to disguise what they’re doing with the best possible facade, even while their operations are presented with nearly full transparency. In Gatorly Farms, a large and ugly factory complex is poorly covered up with an ageing billboard and less than satisfactory celebratory flags. The industrial facility represents our need to produce at massive quantities, whether or not we need or want to, while we show off to our customers the flashy and half-hearted attempt to make the product out to be desirable and friendly. This aggressive use of an animal as a sideshow, product, and profit, represents our greed and animosity towards our surroundings.
Jules Buck Jones
I make paintings and drawings inspired by the natural world and the mythology and stories surrounding it. My work depicts abstracted flora and fauna, anthropomorphized landscapes, and conflated geologic timelines, presenting synchronicities in nature, and twisted narratives of natural history. I am inspired by natural phenomena such as animal and plant communication, camouflage techniques, mating displays, symbiotic relationships, persecuted wildlife, evolution, and extinction. My work fuses these interests with supernatural elements to produce work both familiar and alien to viewers. My painting language shifts gears quite dramatically from gestural suggestions, to illustrative descriptions, using dense patterns, layering, expressive mark making, and disassembling and reassembling paintings through collage. While works on paper are my primary vehicle, I produce artwork in many forms including sculpture, video, performance, and installation.
Crocodilians have long been a part of the imagery in my work, for me their allure and beauty is only matched by their status as a long mostly unchanged marvel of evolution. For some time I’ve been interested in mankind’s placement of value in alligators, as pests, food, and garments to wear, a top predator means very little in a world ruled by man. With that said, as much as we dominate our world, it is difficult to ignore the life around us and much of our lives is imbued with imagery and lore that inspire us and intertwine with languages and culture.
On view May 2 to May 18
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 2, 6 – 9pm
Open for First Friday, May 3, 6 – 9pm
This exhibition is free and open to the public.