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by Shawn E. Russell
matboard dimensions 11 x 14 inches
frame dimensions 16 x 19 inches
Colonize was born from an avid love for wildlife and nature’s incredible ingenuity and survival strategies. I have always been fascinated by the relationships between animals and organisms within their biomes. Studying the relationships between predator and prey, connections between seemingly unrelated organisms, their stages of life, survival strategies, and epic confrontations has often been a meditative journey to process ideas and events specific to my own life.
The fox being a predator, and fearsome end to some of our smaller woodland creatures is recreated with my pencil in a pose often seen while pursuing rodents in brush or snow. These celebrated hunters will listen with their hypersensitive hearing for movements underground in order to locate prey. Once found the fox will leap into the air and create enough force to collapse the tunnel or den its prospective meal is hiding in. If successful the fox will have captured a rodent morsel for itself or it’s young.
Many small mammals are not picky eaters, they are omnivorous and will take anything they can get. From grains, to insects, fruits, roots, and even fungi like the mushrooms depicted, they prey on and forage for many food sources that would be unassuming to a fox.
Especially with the history and current issues of race, oppression, and colonization being discussed with more urgency and empathy. I used this piece to explore the concept of mushrooms colonizing a predator in the act of hunting an absent creature that would nourish itself by preying on mushrooms if given the chance. Mushrooms of this nature are not the type to colonize a living fox. However, I loved the idea of a feared hunter in the act of pursuing absent prey, becoming a settlement for an unassuming organism whose microscopic spores cannot be stopped from spreading in the wild. This drawing, Colonize represents the power of how our beautiful ecosystems are created to maintain balance, through the relationships between all of its living things in astounding ways, and my hopes for imbalances of power among humans to be righted.
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