Snail Snake City depicts locations I have frequented in Salt Lake City parks and trails, creatures of these locations, overlaid with visualizations of thoughts, memories and personal mythology. Many stories are behind these pieces—I have space to share only hints of them.
The first painting I created about the Salt Lake City Cemetery was The Magpie’s Pink Cemetery Map. The call of magpies is the most frequent sound there. The magpies act as though the Cemetery belongs to them. The Cemetery doesn’t belong to me, even though I like to think that I belong when I’m in the Cemetery. Cemetery Tree Felled in the Windstorm I & II depict two trees which fell following the hurricane-force windstorm in September 2020. The tree in II lived for some time after it fell. I waited until the weather warmed the following spring to paint the trees en plein air. By then tree II had been sawed and hauled away, and only the stump and roots remained.
Snakes are a frequent feature in my work which stems from an experience I had with a garter snake on June 17, 2015, in the Red Butte Research Natural Area while performing graduate research. Remote Return, which features snakes flying in the sky, began as a loose landscape painting I worked on during my bike rides up City Creek Canyon. I used it as a test sheet for other paintings. Bordering the landscape are aspects of these paintings, as though one is peering at a memory through more recent memories. The flying snakes of Remote Return informed my use of bordering snakes in Snail Snake City, which was created during my artist residency at the Natural History Museum of Utah, parallel to their special exhibit, Nature All Around Us, which was about urban nature.
Hidden Hollow, Liberty Park and City Creek Canyon are three of six illustrations I created for the publication Field Work Field Guide: Aligning Poetry & Science, which was a 2018 collaboration between the Natural History Museum of Utah, the Salt Lake City Public Library and former Utah poet laureate Katharine Coles. This project encouraged the reader to pay attention to and engage with city green spaces.
Loved by the Prickly Pear is the image of a cactus who lives in City Creek Canyon. When I found the cactus, a wasp nest was nestled at the base, and on the other side of the cactus lived large aphids. I painted the cactus en plein air and ate its fruit after its yellow flowers fell.
Acknowledged by the Sunset at Horse Thief is the exception in the exhibition in that it depicts a location outside of Salt Lake City. In the summer of 2018, I did research in the Moab area for an illustration commission. During this summer visit, it was so hot in Moab we slept on top of sleeping bags and drank instant coffee cold.
Claire Taylor’s process of art-making serves as an existential exploration, and conveys the intelligence and agency of non-human animals, plants and landscapes, reflecting her interests in ecology and wildlife. She has held artist residencies at the Natural History Museum of Utah and the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. She has held teaching-artist residencies serving under-served populations across Utah, such as remote rural populations and incarcerated youth, in which she focuses on art and ecology. Her illustration work has been commissioned by many Utah based organizations for projects related to naturalism, including the Salt Lake City Public Library and the Natural History Museum of Utah, the Salt Lake City Arts Council, the Sustainability Office at the University of Utah, Ken Sanders Rare Books, Back of Beyond Books and Torrey House Press. She holds a Master of Science in Environmental Humanities and a BFA from the University of Utah.
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