Last to Leave
watercolor and pastel on collaged layers of paper
30 x 40 in.
My work intermingles the magical, the uncanny, the impossible, and the real. It ranges from painting, drawing and printmaking to construction, installation, and performance. At times I collaborate. While I depict the natural world, the results are constructed, taken from moments of direct observation, but recombined to embody a more existential reality. I use animals and birds as subject matter. So much about these creatures is recognizable and familiar, on one hand, and so impenetrably unrecognizable on the other. By that I mean that we might see in them familiar qualities like curiosity, fear, or pleasure, but we can never ultimately think like they think. So, animals provide a platform to explore qualities of familiarity and strangeness, as well as the knowable and the mysterious. Regardless of media and format, everything I make presents the subject in a way that brings its inherent underlying strangeness to the forefront.
My working process begins with a great deal of photography, recording both wildlife and environment onsite. I seek out landscape and wildlife that are extreme or exotic, and the work resulting from these trips reflects not only the appearance of the places but also my experience of being there. It has been a long while since I have thought that I am presenting my world or my ideas. Rather, I feel I am reporting on the world as it has told me it is. The magical, the uncanny, the tenuously-ordered, and the about-to-spin-out-of-control (but maybe not) are what pulses beneath the outer appearance of things – these are the news I hear when I listen to a place or a creature. My job as the artist is to present the world so those qualities are most evident.
© Cheryl Hochberg