Living matter thrives and dies within the intricate linework of Michigan-born artist Christina Mrozik. On large pieces of paper, she uses pen, ink, marker, and watercolor to compose semi-surreal visions of nature that are much different from the usual paintings of serene landscapes and friendly animals. Mrozik’s creatures bustle with a quiet ferocity: cranes perching on wolf carcasses split open with their progeny inside; owls flap wildly, trying to escape a rope of viscera that binds them to the roots below. Full of verdant symbolism, it somewhat resembles a twisted Garden of Eden, but it is important not to let the dark imagery overwhelm us; Mrozik’s vision of life-embracing-death (and vice versa) transcends existential horror, arriving at a depiction of nature that gives meaning to death and joins all living things in a greater life process.
The human perception of “nature” is central to Mrozik’s work. In her artist’s statement, she points out the seemingly contradictory “double perception” we have of nature: “it is either something to be glorified, or something to be dominated” (Source). We relish in its beauty and the idea of “untouched” lands, but we also wish to place ourselves above it, to separate ourselves, defining it as an “other” that can be controlled and exploited. Through her organic forms and the fusion of human and animal imagery, Mrozik’s art seeks to dissolve these imaginary boundaries, exemplifying how a sentience exists throughout all living things. As she concludes: “I feel that the basic stories of feeding, migration, shelter, mating, and self awareness are an essential part of our inner being and affect our view of the world both around us and within us.” (Source).