Shae is an artist and naturalist with a BFA in intaglio printmaking and an MFA in painting. If she’s not making art, she’s usually outside learning the names of things or opening drawers in the research collections of natural history museums. Her work explores modern perceptions that are distancing people from nature, and as a curious layperson, she seeks to find an ideal balance between science and sentiment.
This series of paintings references the bird and botanical documentation carried out by Lewis and Clark. After their expedition, Lewis and Clark delegated the describing of these species to scientists and artists, most of whom had never seen the species alive. To represent the artists’ difficult task, Shea created paintings that seem more like scenes fabricated by stagehands than snapshots of real life. Each image features a crowded vignette with plants inspired by flattened herbarium specimens. Birds are tucked in like flowers in a bouquet or float like boats among the foliage.