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Petri Dish

Natalie Nelson

Mixed Media Oil on Canvas, 2022

Undergraduate
Beginning with a focus on food memories, I worked with recycled to-go containers, interested in what is left behind after a meal is finished; uncovering mold as a subject. Understanding that mold acts as a visual representation of the passage of time or distancing of memory. Connections I discovered between the life cycle of mold’s regenerative nature with that of the human body brought crucial insights into how I began to approach changes that come with the aging body. Each new mold spore that grows comes directly from one already established; similar to the process of learning or understanding new experiences as we grow. These themes of growth pushed the creative experimentation with materials; Embroidery Thread, Glass and Stone Beads, Poly-Fil, and Chicken Wire. As a mixed media artist, I challenge myself to take the experiments and find connections within a question; can oil paintings depicting mold microorganisms, exaggerated in scale, act as a self portrait that comments on the decay and subsequent rebuilding of one's identity through the new life that rises from the old? Adding or Subtracting materials and methods as I go. This portrait expresses my process of continuous recycling–breaking the frame of the traditional canvas.