Artist Ellen Jewett fuses plants, animals, and man-made devices to create fantastical portraits of animals. These hand-crafted hybrids, which she refers to as “natural history surrealist sculpture,” mimic the bodies of the creatures, but they deviate from the norm in usual ways. A rabbit's fur is replaced by twisted branches and vines, and accentuated by tiny butterflies. And while three crows have some semblance of feathers, Jewett attached small trees that rise above their forms. You can even see sets of gears tucked into their branches.
Jewett's extensive background helps her form these stunning sculptures. She is knowledgeable in anthropology, medical illustration, exotic animal care, and stop motion animation. These seemingly disparate fields all come together to support her artwork. They've not only taught her about anatomy and creating life-like animals, but allow her to go beyond realism and explore abstraction.
When Jewett began constructing her sculptures, she used an additive technique and layered from the inside to out. Over time, however, she found that subtracting elements – increasing the negative space – led to a greater emotional presence. “The element of weight, which has always seemed so fundamentally tied to the medium of sculpture, is stripped away and the laws of gravity are no longer in full effect,” she writes.
Jewett also chooses to abstain from materials that are known to have toxic properties, such as clay, paints, and glazes. She explains, “This, unavoidably, excludes most of what is commonly commercially available, and has sent me on a journey of unique material combination and invention.” The result is a complex, unusual beauty that makes her work incredibly unique.