Name: Vanessa Gonzalez
Born: Santa Fe, NM
Lives and works: Santa Fe, NM
Charming plushy animals walk the razor’s edge between life and lifelessness in Vanessa Gonzalez’s paintings. Each creature—a sloth, a jackalope, a flock of birds—has its limbs wrenched from its tiny body, with threads and fiberfill stuffing poking out of wounds. Far from violent, many of Gonzalez’s portraits manage to capture a dispassionate, if not cheerful expression in each of her subjects, as though each creature has no awareness of its pathetic demise. In Saint Francis, a flock of birds, a mouse and a squirrel crowd around a statue of the saint. Despite the missing beady eyes and wings torn asunder, the flock is unperturbed, twittering about with endearing persistence.
Gonzalez calls this series “a collaboration” with her dog, Mick. She tasked Mick with exercising his canine instincts, dismembering chew toys until only a mangled, gutted fabric corpse remains. Gonzalez then lovingly rendered each toy as a kind of trophy for her co-conspirator and co-creator. For the artist, the series traces the history of her relationship with her pet, tinged with love and nostalgia.
Gonzalez has a BFA in painting from Arizona State University and has worked and exhibited across the country. Mick was a lively Dachshund-Brussels Griffon mix who served as her muse and inspiration for many years.