Ask anyone who attended the Seeing With Animals portion of the Living With Animals conference in March, and they’ll likely tell you the most stand-out talk was Maria Lux’s “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Unforeseen Consequences of Co-existence with Vultures, Fruit Bats, and Viruses.” This project and all its components are so intentional, well researched and executed, fascinating conceptually, and mind-blowing visually. The work speaks of wealth, feasting, and prosperity alongside the inevitability of death, while featuring the intertwining stories of vultures, fruit bats and viruses. I learned so much during this 15-minute presentation, and I’m so glad to know about Maria’s vast range of incredible artwork. Be sure to check out her website for much more.

From the artist’s statement: I make installation-based works that center on the way animals are used to generate human knowledge and understanding. As both familiar and alien, animals often come to serve as the boundary against which humans create our own sense of identity – efforts which play out through both historical and urgently current concerns. Histories and philosophies of science, the optimism and fantasy that accompanies empirical study, animals at the borders of the human and the machine, technologies of domestication, and invasive species are recurring topics in my practice. I work across disciplines, building projects around existing research and stories from fields such as evolutionary biology, medicine, agriculture, history, literature, film, and anthropology. Conveying this variety of information entails using a variety of materials and processes. My work spans from traditional drawings and paintings, dioramas, and museum-style display cases, to large-scale carving, casting, or sewing. The installations sometimes leverage the conventions of natural history or science museums, and regularly use found and modified objects, quoted articles and texts, or graphs and charts. I place myself within a context of both art-worlds and scholarly discussions, and I see my work as part of a larger dialogue about the unique qualities of both animals and art-making that can lead us to new ways to think and new ways of knowing.

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