Angela Piehl

My work functions much like a personal “cabinet of curiosities”. I start by collecting and arranging; mining through scientific illustrations, found objects, wallpaper and fabric patterns, and media sources such as lifestyle/design magazines. I then allow this collected material to cluster and coagulate.

The impulse to arrange the wildness of the natural world to fit into an intellectual order or symmetry is intrinsically human, yet the very act of doing so changes who we are and how we fit into the world. I often think about the carefully constructed environments that humans function within. These curated spaces are steadily eclipsing the natural world, and mediated experience has for many humans, replaced direct contact with Nature.

I am drawn to image interactions that access the darker undertones of bourgeois lifestyle and behavior, and attempt to create connections between accumulation, and alienation from Nature. I combine and abstract decorative elements with organic material like hair, tentacles, eggs, bone, crystalline structures and wood.

I consider these interactions from a gendered perspective. The design imagery I am quoting possesses an inherent, suggestive codification for femininity. I enjoy the suggestion of a decadent femininity and an absurd opulence. I translate this visually, using texture to craft elaborately ornate elements and suggestive forms in my drawings.

Images I collect also contain highly synthetic representations of Nature and natural beauty, and this artifice and irony becomes layered into my content. Intermingling of the natural and synthetic creates a sort of biomorphic abstraction, with inherent narrative qualities. The resulting creatures are grotesque, bouquet-like, and somewhat lurid: monstrous, yet delicately fragile and lovely. Living, yet ambiguously dormant. They appear luxuriously decorative and organically corporeal, imbibed with the power to both attract and repel.

I am interested in this conflict, and in the potential of these accumulations to host projections of human emotion and desire. The process for producing this work allows me to investigate multiple layers of meaning: potential or promise, as well as quiescence, mortality, and isolation among them.