Stephanie Brown is a multidisciplinary artist, in both traditional mediums and the art of tattooing. Graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she worked with the artist-in-residence at the Field Museum in Chicago – which gave an inside look to both natural history collections, and the applied arts surrounding them, both of which inspire the subjects and application of her work.
Stephanie Brown explores the hierarchy of natural selection in both real and imagined scenes. These sacred animal rituals exist in our perceivable realm, often unseen – but when the curtain is peeled back, the subjects symbolically articulate human desire, anxiety and fear.
The luxuriant plumages and brilliant shows of color attract our eye, but also reveal the subjects in their most fertile, vulnerable and desperate state – revealing themselves to both partners and predators. The undercurrent of survival drives the most reptilian processes in every organism – to consume and to propagate. The spaces where these processes intersect reveal the relationships in the larger ecosystem that frequently cross paths with complex human interest.
“There’s something that comes with making your hobby – something that you do for your own benefit and pleasure – your job. The pleasure I used to get from my artwork also comes from my work-work – I get paid for it now. Which means there’s no separation between my days off and my days at work. It’s a constant engine going in your head.
I think it’s important to keep something sacred to you in your art, and there are ways to do that, but it’s also really easy to lose sight of that. Being able to fully enjoy drawing the way I used to – in a safe place where it doesn’t have to be shown – is actually much harder for me now. I’ve been trying to paint more with less consequence, not worrying about having it fit into a print or tattoo in my head.
I’ve been trying to paint more. Painting helps completely undo all of the tensions that tattooing builds up. In tattooing, all of your wrist movements are so minute, while you can use more of your full arm and there’s more fluidity painting. I’m trying to do it for myself, which is hard.” – Stephanie Brown (Babe Squad)