Through Otherworldly Graphite-and-Ink, Juliet Schrekinger Advocates for Protecting Endangered Species
May 17, 2023
Photography has an impulse for preservation, of cloistering the fleeting and saving it for future recollection. Artist Juliet Schrekinger references this act of protection in her ink-and-graphite works that evoke the grainy qualities of black-and-white film through a distinctly surreal vision.
Throughout her childhood, Schrekinger witnessed her mother taking countless photos of family events and happenings that were then displayed. “I continually saw the greatest moments I shared with my loved ones framed in our home, colorless time capsules that I would turn to for years to come,” the artist says. “I began to feel a deep desire to recreate these sorts of time capsules in my work but wanted to incorporate scenes that did not occur in this world.”
Mimicking the lighting and tonal contrasts of her mother’s images, Schrekinger’s renderings fuse the anatomically accurate with the otherworldly. While many of her scenes are unearthly—a pangolin wraps its long, scaly tail around the torso of a fox, sea birds perch upon a squid’s sinuous arms, and a band of hares appears to float through the sky—the animals are depicted in exacting detail, and the likeness of their fur, feathers, and tentacles is the result of extensive research. “I have traveled up and down both the east and west coast of the U.S., taking my own reference photos of birds, aquatic life, ocean environments, trees, and so much more that all ends up being used as a starting point in my work,” she tells Colossal, noting that when it’s impossible to use her own images, she collates five to ten photos to create a specific form.
Most of the animals featured in Schrekinger’s work are endangered or vulnerable, and she’s concerned with environmental destruction, loss of habitat, and the threat many species face as the world warms and the climate changes. Pangolins, for example, are thought to be the most-trafficked non-human mammal, while the North Atlantic Right Whale is one of the most endangered species, with fewer than 350 left worldwide. “Above all else, I feel the most important aspect of what I do is raising awareness for endangered and vulnerable species,” she says. “I feel it is my duty to use my art to promote a consciousness in our society of the serious problems facing those who have no voice.” In recent years, she’s collaborated with numerous conservation organizations like the Pangeaseed and Surfrider foundations, to create works advocating for greater protection.
Schrekinger, whose studio is in Amityville, New York, is involved in several group exhibitions in the coming months, including Existential on view through May 21 at Antler Gallery in Portland and upcoming shows with Modern Eden Gallery, Stranger Factory Gallery, and Nucleus Portland. She’s also preparing for a solo exhibition opening in October at Arch Enemy Arts. You can find originals and prints on her site, and follow her latest works on Instagram. (via Beautiful Bizarre)
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