Abbey Kuhe | Biography

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Statement: "In E.O. Wilson’s Biophilia, the author reminds the modern reader that the long evolution of homo sapien occurred within an environment we have only very recently differentiated as “nature”. In the 100,000 years since our species emerged on the savannahs, only in the last century have we begun to concentrate our populations into cities. Biophilia is the evolutionary imprint that “nature” has had on our genome – it is our urge to affiliate with other life forms. It is our LOVE OF LIFE.

I am fascinated by this phenomenon in the context of the Anthropocene era. As we begin to define our age as the Sixth Mass Extinction, watching earth’s biodiversity destroyed by human intervention and capitalist consumption, I explore the histories of our extractive economies and the species that we simultaneously revere and annihilate.

Visually and conceptually my work is inspired and informed by myriad resources, from the intersections of social and climate justice to the golden age of children’s book illustration; from biophilic philosophies of biology to 19th Century textile design; from divine feminine mythologies to 16th century scientific expedition illustration. Throughout, I explore these tensions in human identity, using narrative and history of the human struggle to differentiate from or connect to nature.

I love the act of creating in clay as metonym for this struggle. It is of the earth and yet it is absolutely civilized. It is literally extracted from ancient alluvial deposits and is utilized in some of the most esoteric rituals of our species. And porcelain, in particular, references some of the most crucial moments in our histories of technology, industry, and colonialism. My hope is that the technique of sgraffito lends itself to an inclusive visual vocabulary in exploring these themes. The act of scratching into a surface in service of communication is one we even share with other species. "