"Everything with substance casts a shadow. The ego stands to the shadow as light to shade.
This is the quality that makes us human. Much as we would like to deny it, we are imperfect.
And perhaps it is in what we don't accept about ourselves -- our aggression and shame,
our guilt and pain -- that we discover our humanity."

My process includes research into the marvelous and strange from ancient mythology to contemporary monster theory to examine social constructs. I focus on the conflicted complexity of human behavior driven by both instinct and cultural influences. Prominent cultural influences include history, religion, science, media, and literature. Beyond environment, innate instinctual forces also drive behavior. The research reveals the ways our social, creative, and psychological development relates to animals. The human condition is domesticated; we are animals. As social creatures, we combat reason versus instinct. Through translating a human experience into the form of an animal, we look at ourselves from another viewpoint. Animals are the focus because they are devoid of race, gender, and body politics. Human-like eyes and smooth skin provide viewers with clues to the introspective nature of my ideation.

The latest series "Meeting Our Shadow" responses to the tragic events from the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting to the deadly shootings in San Bernandino, California. After the killing of twenty-six people in Newtown, Connecticut, I began a seies of studio experiements. I sculpted several clay deer torsos to have shot with a variety of handguns and assault weapons. The Impact (I - III) figures recorded the effect of a 38 special with hollow point bullets. The fawn sizes are based on first graders. The body positions of the wall-mounted and floor tumbling figures are sensationalized as if the shots were just fired. The melodrama of these two are balanced by the realistic position of the third. The third was modeled based on a dead fawn. The installation references film, yet locates the event in actual space. This is key. We become witness, or taking it a step further, implicated.

The unreal becomes tangible through sculptural animal forms. For example, Apparition is a mountain lion sculpture that physically cries. An apparition of a person or a thing is an immaterial appearance that seems real and is generally startling in its manifestation. Many societies have utilized feline icons as metaphors to express human qualities and symbolize human relations. My work continues this lineage. Apart from humans, large cats are the most widespread and successful land-bound predators.

The natural behavior of the animal holds a direct relationship to the concept. Human Shadow pairs predator and prey. The sculpture is a fawn casting the shadow of a wolf. The head is visually distorted as if a slow motion blur has permentatly morphed the physicality. This frozen action attempts to convey confusion. According to author Robert Bly, each personal naturally develops a shadow beginning in childhood composed of repressed personality traits. Those traits were found to be unattractive by others and/or yourself. Therefore, the sculture visualizes Bly's insight, "our culture teaches us from early infancy to split and polarize dark and light." According to Carl Jung the founder of analytical psychology, great potential waits to be retrieved in the "shadow." Devour is the physical representation of unpacking the shadow. The wolf has become physical and no longer merely a shadow. The conjoined deer sleeps while the starved wolf chews on its leg. The irregular body is a psychological portrait that disturbs the cultural 'norm.' As viewers approach the wolf side, it growls.

The work embodies a symbolic language in which I explore themes including inner confrontation, spirituality, vulnerability, and death. I am interested in the complexity of human behavior from our celebratory moments to disastrous events. In observing the extremes both the dark and light of humanity are present. In understanding our polarities, we establish a new sense of awareness. By exploring the dark side of human nature we can engage in discussion to heal our "collective shadow" including violence. I seek to stimulate conversations about how communities can unite to heal our past and work to minimize violent acts in the future.

Jessica Teckemeyer, Artist