Ugly Babies is an artistic venture into identifying and relating to animals in a wild or domestic setting that people don’t normally consider attractive. Additionally, these works question the phrases: “so ugly, they’re cute,” or, “a face only a mother could love,” and “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” They also look at the meaning of “baby”, and how that word is used in the literal sense and as a term of endearment.
As a working artist I attempt to creatively and colorfully convey some positive natural aspect of an animal, insect, or arachnid that is (at least to me) attractive. Ideally, these elements are found in all animals, including unusual or uncommon animal species, like the echidna, or species that carry a stigma, such as the rat or bat. Additionally, these elements are inherent in animals of all ages. And, although they may truly be “ugly babies” to some, that perspective never stops the innocence and wisdom from shining through. And that is beautiful.
These paintings are not meant to answer the question of whether these creatures are “pretty,” or “cute,” or even if those words matter. Ultimately, that is up to the viewer to decide. But as a naturalist and artist, I feel that part of my creative purpose is to pay close attention to the animal kingdom and pay closer attention to the theory that, no matter the animal or the species they belong to, all creatures have a very specific purpose and beauty; which, although we may not be able to see it at first, we should acknowledge that it is there - visible and real. I’d like to think that we as human beings have the capacity to be able to see this reality and define it in relation to ourselves. And as we recognize and protect these things within ourselves, we will hopefully do the same for them.