Elements: Mixed Media

Artist Statement

My work explores the relationships that exist among humans, animals, and ecosystems, particularly in terms of the food chain, raw materials, and the human tendency to exert control over natural systems. It explores existential quandaries such as, what it means to be a human today, how we can live in the world responsibly, and what our obligation is to do so. As a multimedia artist, I question anthropocentric viewpoints and interpret the man-made environment primarily through print, drawing, installation, and video.

My investigations stem from a lifelong environmental concern and empathic attitude toward other living things. In what ways do we conceive of and use the natural world? Born into a developed society, distanced from the origins of the foods and materials that support me, I feel as though I’ve missed something. I take a step back, searching for the beginning. I am interested in the basics of survival as they have evolved in our contemporary experience, particularly in regard to food and shelter, from hunting to buying a Styrofoam, plastic-wrapped hunk of meat at the deli, from using fire for heat to more abstract means such as coal or natural gas. And what of our relationship to animals—not only as food, but as companions, predators, environmental symbols? Among other goals, my work seeks to shrink the gap between our conception of humans and non-human animals.

An ongoing project I am working toward called Elements, which is shown here, is a body of work that acknowledges raw materials and the periodic table of elements as the building blocks of typical western home construction and furnishing. The series includes drawing, sculpture, and video projection. Each two-dimensional work I create for this project is based on a single element or raw material, such as lead or gypsum. The series delves into primal necessities but also moves beyond into the realm of luxuries. The first iteration of Elements focused on the bedroom. The pieces pay homage to cozy materials such as wool and down that clothe and warm us. Ultimately, each space in the home will be addressed, boiled down to its essential purpose: the kitchen as a place of food, the bathroom of water and bathing, the bedroom as shelter and warmth, the living room as community and safety. These works, while based in research, poetically and reverentially portray their subjects.

Artist Laura Bigger is currently an assistant professor of art at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO. She has previously taught at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Augsburg College, in Minneapolis, MN. Originally from Boulder, CO, Bigger received a BA in studio art and Hispanic studies from Colorado College in 2008 and an MFA in printmaking from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in 2013. She has exhibited her work nationally. Most recently, she mounted solo exhibitions at Frontier Space in Missoula, MT, and The Holland Project in Reno, NV.