Katherine Joubert

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition

Little Surrogates

In an environment of uncertainty, I find myself turning to my childhood methods of finding moments of escape and control. In the turbulent seasons of my childhood, I sought comfort in the practice of repetitive drawing and in the company of animals. Today, those same habits have resurfaced, almost subconsciously, as I try to make sense of the world around me and try to cope with the expectations and instability of becoming an adult. Since I no longer have the uninterrupted access to nature and to animal beings that I did as a child, I have found myself drawing and sculpting surrogates in an attempt to recreate the safety and enchantment I once experienced in their presence. More than that, these animals, in their materiality and form act as metaphors for my own emotions of uncertainty and vulnerability. The physical making process has been an exercise in gaining control and channelling my thoughts through repetitive mark-making and needle felting. The results have been healing not only in this method but also in the empathy and love I feel towards the little creatures I have made.

My fascination for animals comes from their reliability, I find comfort in their instincts and behavioural patterns that are so much more predictable than that of humans. I have found a psychological grounding of my tendency to need animals for comfort, in the writing of Eugene Myers who wrote a book on his experience of the interactions between young children and animals, “The Significance of Children and animals: Social Development and our Connection to Other Species”. His book explores possible explanations for children’s fascination with animals as well as their importance in the development of morality and a sense of self in children. I identify strongly with his findings that children enjoy the presence of animals because of a lack of social pressures that might be found in human relationships, and I remember even preferring the company of animals to humans for that exact reason.

The comfort and control I experience in the process of drawing lies in the monotony of the process, the aesthetic enjoyment I find in ink on paper, and the empowerment of being in control of an outcome of something. My aim with my practice is to offer a space for contemplation and calm drawn from beauty and from the presence of animal bodies, both in a tactile sense and in a linear sense. Frozen in varying stages of life and death and vulnerability, the creatures I have created (drawn from animals in my environment growing up) long for empathy and care. Their ambiguity lends itself to the uncertainty I speak of and offers a duality of comfort and vulnerability.  I have employed aesthetic styles that appeal to me and the tactile nature of my creatures directly speaks to the missing animals in my life. In short, this exhibition is a materialization of the natural things that occupy my imagination and the result of my love and affiliation with animal beings and nature.