Eve Damie Fine Arts
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The Evolution of the Animal Ark: Alchemy of the Found Object
© (1995 to1999) 2009 Text By Eve Damie

The Animal Ark series deals with the ideas of protection, preservation and sanctuary. The animals of the ark- the found objects and chairs from which they were created- are born from a society that throws away and wastes many of its vital resources.

My exploration into the world of the Animal Ark dates back to 1992, when I saw a section of an old wooden chair that reminded me of a stylized abstract animal figure. I realized that chairs of different styles had unlimited potential- they were unique shapes that could be used to construct surfaces for paintings. This sparked my fascination with disassembling chairs and reassembling them into animal figures, masks and totems.

My need for a versatile supply of chair parts took me into the streets of Montréal, where beautiful, high-quality chairs are discarded during the moving season. These orphan chair fragments became the starting points for my constructed surfaces. I animated these constructed animal figures with found objects such as miniature toy animals, then painted them in brilliant, iridescent and metallic colours.

Since 1992, the Animal Ark has evolved continuously both in terms of structural changes to the animal figures and in approaches to scale, shape, colour, texture and symbolism. In 1992, I was creating full figures (bodies with heads) that were abstract, stylized symbols of animal deities and totems. In 1993, I did away with the figure’s body and concentrated on the head or face, which became an animalistic mask. In 1994, I returned to creating full figures, but rather than being abstract symbols, they became clearly identifiable animals of various species, mainly birds. Birds represent to me the symbolic free minded spirit of the artist who metaphorically fly’s in the uncharted skies of the creative process- imagination.

Since late 1994 and in 1995, I am continuing to explore specific animal species but am constructing much larger scale works compared to previous ones. I have also begun creating works that are painted on oddly shaped antique mirror frames. These works form an interesting structural contrast to my other works, which are constructed from chair parts.

With each painting, I experiment with colour, deliberately focusing on specific colour groups. Recently I have been using various acrylic mediums (glass beads, ceramic stucco, resin sand, etc.) to create textures that give a sandy, earthy, antique and/or ancient feel to the surfaces of my paintings.

In the Animal Ark series, my highly detailed painterly style transforms the wooden constructed animal figures into vital energy forces and magical spirits which demand respect from the viewer. By portraying animals in such a light, my intention is to sensitize others to the divine nature of animals and to explore the human condition through animal symbolism.

In the process of painting the found objects, I often feel like an archaeologist rediscovering and inventing lost relics. As I get lost in the colours of the paint, I uncover extinct and endangered animals, mythological species of past, present and future civilizations, reappearing treasures of a disappearing ecosystem.

My message is about transformation. The world does not respect animals or the environment, their home. On the constructed surface of my paintings, the animals of the ark inhabit an imaginary planetary dreamscape where they are free to exist in peace and harmony, something that is only possible in the realm of art.