Just as I predicted, this Dark Forest theme has really captured my imagination. After I finished the deer sculpture from the last post, I knew I had something I needed to explore for awhile.

In the last post, I described the idea of the Dark Forest as a metaphor for dark and confusing times that we all pass through as part of the human experience. I think everyone will pass through one at some point. Some people are in the process currently. But everyone’s experience is different. I thought of the Dark Forest as a vast place, with many different pathways and creatures lurking there. My plan is to create a series of Dark Forest Species. Each one will personify (animal-ify?) one experience, struggle, or thought that a person could meet with on their journey. Some might be harrowing, others might be sad. Others may represent the light at the end of the journey. In any case, it’s a lot to work with so I am ready to hit the studio and populate this forest!

Here is an in progress shot of my next Species:

This guy is meant to be a little unsettling. He is one of the more worrisome things you could meet while in the dark forest. More on that later, when he is completed.

Also, on a personal note: I was describing some of my ideas to a friend of mine when she stopped me and said, “Emily. Are you going through something you want to talk about? Is everything okay?” I was really touched by her concern, and had totally not realized that making work about struggling with difficult issues might- well, make people think I was dealing with some difficult issues! Truthfully, I am doing just fine, and that’s what I told my friend. I have made self-referential pieces before, to parse out something I was thinking or dealing with at the time. But this new series isn’t.

However, I’ve got some friends that have or are currently going through some tough times. One thing that continually amazes me about people is their ability to appear normal and happy, and function well in day-to-day life, while secretly they are carrying some pretty serious burdens. Whether it’s some tough memories they’re trying to move on from, or a present-day issue, people can have a lot going on in their head that you might never find out about. So I can tell you that a lot of the inspiration for this series is taken straight from the experiences of people who I greatly admire and cherish. Without naming any names or exposing any stories directly, I wanted to find some way to express the poignancy and complexity of what people carry with them under the surface.