Nathan Cole

ArtAscent Distinguished Artist of the 2021 Winter call for artists

Distinguished Artist of the ArtAscent Winter call for entry. To see the full body of work, grab a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Winter issue.

Artist Statement

Scratchboard is a delicate process; you create by scratching away the ink. The more you scratch and the more repetitive you are, the less the surface remains the same. Humans create their societies in a similar way, they create by taking away the resources. Stripping the surface to create something new. This is often a destructive process that results in animals disappearing along with their habitats. I want to creatively re-engineer this process, to give these animals a new life, a new future out of the darkness.

About My Work

Scratchboard, by its very construction and purpose, is a very fragile medium – you create by taking away and any missed stroke could ruin what you have created so far. Humanity and its relation to nature is quite similar. Humans create their society by taking away, cutting down and stripping the resources to create their cities and culture. Their impact on the wildlife and habitats around them is deeply affected by this process, but also in how they build their culture, the stories told, and myths created. The perception of particular animals by humans due to their place in history can very well determine their livelihood. Are the animals viewed as a threat to humans, are they treasured for their fur or meat, do they have mythic properties on the black market, or are they perceived as a pest to be rid of? Does your pet have more inherent value than a wild creature? Creating expressive animal portraits with scratchboard creates a tenuous relationship between viewer and creature, where historical and cultural perceptions can deeply affect how they see the animal in front of them. The painstaking and slow process of creating the art is echoed by the careful approach that must be taken in examining some of the myths and perceptions humans have of these animals, and how that may affect conservation efforts. In this way I hope that by creating art I can improve the relationships of humans and the cities they live in with the wildlife surrounding them.

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