Zoe Keller creates detailed illustrations pulled from the natural world. Her fauna-based drawings are done completely in charcoal, drawing the eye to the subtle markings used to create either fur or scales. Source imagery for the works comes from nature and how it becomes mediated in books and field guides, however Keller often fills in areas of question with pieces pulled from her own inquisitions or memory.
“My curiosity about the natural world is what keeps me dialed in to my work,” Keller told Colossal. “Drawing is the best way that I’ve found to understand how organisms and ecosystems work. In order to draw something realistically you have to understand how it sits in space, how it moves, the mechanics of its insides. So for me tuning into the natural world means chasing an endless series of questions. On the most minute, piece-specific scale, this can mean asking how many whorls are in the shell of a particular species of snail. On a larger scale, I’ve been developing bodies of work that ask big questions about visually engaging with the natural world in ways that honor it and inspire others to protect it.”
Often the Portland-based artist’s subjects are related in a way that might not be known to the common viewer. This can range from a drawing of plants that are endangered in Oregon to a work concentrated on flowers that can only be found in a particular part of the US. This strategy allows a deeper research to go into her practice so that the final image is not just about aesthetics, but relates to a more immediate concern for the natural world.
Keller recently participated in a week-long backpacking artist residency called Signal Fire in the Klamath National Forest which was one of many inspirations for her upcoming solo exhibition Swarm, opening October 27 at Light Grey Art Lab in Minneapolis. You can peek further into Keller’s practice on her Instagram and Facebook. (via Hi-Fructose)