Teagan White is an Oregon based artist, working primarily in gouache and watercolor. Flora and fauna take the main stage of her artwork. She states that her “work is influenced by years of living in the bleak Midwest and Great Lakes region, burying roadkill, traveling by bike, and working with wildlife.”
Upon first glance one could find her work reminiscent of the early naturalist painters, Audubon or Maria Sibylla Merian. Specifically depicting the environment where an animal exits. This plays an essential role in capturing the true essence of that animal. I argue that Teagan can be seen as a modern naturalist. Animals depicted in their death help to portray the idea that the death of an animal holds equal importance to its life. Consequently in her work, life exists on top of death. The body of an animal becomes part of the environment that once sustained it and provides shelter for new animals. Flowers grow freely through bones and decay. Teagan paints with a muted color palette and often depicts death with a golden halo and hollowed eyes. Flowers, leaves and stems are used to offer structure and suggest environment.
Death isn’t always at the forefront of Teagan’s work. She uses her art to bring awareness to the treatment of animals that are very much alive. Inspiration is found from creatures that are normally overlooked or regarded as pests. Whether it be fine art, Illustration, or children’s design her work begs the viewer to acknowledge and respect all creatures. For her solo show at Talon Gallery titled, “The Cull (You Are Not Welcome Here)”, she portrays the idea that certain creatures are deemed beautiful and acceptable, while others are considered pests that need to be eradicated. For her show, “Land & Sea”, at Nucleus Portland (on view through May 1st), she imagines a world stripped of the human menace. Piglets sleep on a gate that would have once restrained them. A piece of barbed wire is used to highlight the beauty of a cow, rather than as a tool of confinement. Ultimately, Teagan White does more than create beautiful artwork; she invites her audience to ponder and reflect on everyday actions.