Based in Salt Lake City, UT, Claire Taylor is a freelance artist, illustrator and art teacher. She is currently an artist in residence at the Natural History Museum of Utah. She was formerly an artist in residence at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and has held teaching-artist residencies through the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. Her work has been commissioned by Utah-based organizations including the Salt Lake City Public Library, Ken Sanders Rare Books, Back of Beyond Books, the Sustainability Office at the University of Utah and Torrey House Press. She formerly worked as the Studio Manager, Instructor and Lead Printer at the Book Arts Program & Red Butte Press at the University of Utah. She holds a Master of Science in Environmental Humanities and a Bachelor of Fine Art with a printmaking emphasis from the University of Utah.
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On June 17, 2015, I met a garter snake on the road of the Red Butte Research Natural Area.
I had been afraid of snakes—perhaps an evolutionary fear reinforced by childhood traumas. But there was familiarity in this snake’s eyes—they looked like my cat’s eyes. This shifted my fear to affection. As I sat next to the snake, I heard and felt heartbeats from the surroundings. Perhaps an audible hallucination. As it is with such experiences, there isn’t sufficient language to describe what the heartbeats felt like. Because memory renders intense experiences as cloudy as waking dreams, the best I can describe the moment is as a manifestation of a zeitgeist comprised of multiple species.
My work is informed by my ineffable experiences with what humans refer to as “the natural world”—a named distinction for wildlife and landscapes. Through multiple mediums (watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, letterpress printed linoleum relief blocks, and artist books that include my own creative nonfiction and poetry), I invite the viewer to see themselves as participants in ecosystems and zeitgeists often seen as separate from human. I use these mediums to create a visual language where there is no sufficient verbal language.