Michelle Waters
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Artist's Statement

My art fuses my love for animals, concern about the welfare of the planet and twisted sense of humor. I call my work "environmental surrealism". Influences include kitschy portrayals of animals from mass-marketed popular culture, the nightmarish imagery of Hieronymus Bosch, Beatrix Potter, Maurice Sendak, the writings of Edward Abbey, and my work as a wildlife rehabilitator.

My "religious animals" paintings are a reaction to the ubiquitous fundamentalist religion in America as well as the idea propounded by most organized religions that animals have no souls. Some of my animal characters have founded their own religion, complete with nuns, popes and televangelists. My environmentally-themed paintings feature naughty animals having fun turning our superiority on its head by demolishing industrial objects. Grizzly bears with jackhammers "restoring" a freeway, a mountain lion with an acetylene torch decommissioning a bulldozer, arctic wildlife laying waste to a Hummer dealership and animals tearing down billboards for housing developments are some of the characters who populate my paintings.

I also enjoy the disquieting effect of combining body parts from different species. As someone who works with small animals I often ponder the evolutionary process - why creatures look the way they do. Questions as what a bird would like with a squirrel or rabbit head pass through my mind. The hybrid animal paintings are a way for me to indulge these curiosities where no one gets hurt.