August 21, 2023
The living and the dead coexist in vivid color in the fantastic tableaus of artist Lauren Marx (previously). From her St. Louis studio, Marx entangles predators and prey with flora and fauna in dense scenes rendered in a mix of pen, watercolor, and colored pencil. Snakes burst open to reveal feathered wings, an owl snacks on the maroon entrails of a rabbit, and a three-headed creature sprouts dried grass from its midsection. Straddling the line between the beautiful and the brutally grotesque, the works intertwine myriad species and states of being.
Given the trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic and the increasingly destructive effects of the human-caused climate crisis, Marx says the theme of loss of life has become more poignant and profound. “I feel the tension is even greater now after seeing death become part of our daily lives nonstop for years. It went from a casual observation to a persistent one,” she shares. “It’s honestly very overwhelming for me.”
The artist translates this grief into the mythological, rendering creatures like unicorns and dragons in vibrant hues. Fanciful by nature, these pieces twist lush florals and technicolor serpents around the horned beasts, with their deep purple intestines peeking through white fur. “I felt this urge to create bright pieces in order to cheer myself,” she says. “Now, those subjects play a huge role in where I want to take my work in the future.”
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