J. S. Weis, a Portland-based artist and designer, depicts scenes and creatures from nature in his drawings and paintings. And he includes the factor often removed from studies of the natural world: all of the unnatural stuff humans add to it. In two series, “unNaturalist” and “Specimens,” it’s not uncommon to see gorgeous reptiles writhing among cigarette butts or birds among sandwich bags. Weis was last featured on HiFructose.com here, ahead of his “Liquid Hymn” show at 1AM Gallery in 2014.
In an interview earlier this year with Silverlake Voice, Weis talked about he shifted from classical nature studies to capturing what he honestly encountered out in the wild: “I’d visit these beautiful natural landscapes and if I looked closely I’d see evidence of humans everywhere: a bottle cap mashed in the dirt, blunt wrappers & beer cans stashed away from prying eyes, or a fishing lure tangled up in the reeds,” Weis said. “I imagined what it would be like if an alien naturalist came to earth and it seemed like every square inch of our planet will bear the evidence of how we use it.”
The unnatural elements are often extracted, similar to components of a scientific rendering of a specimen. The effect is not only a reminder of our own transgressions with the world we inhabit, but the enduring beauty of the flora and fauna we destroy.