The artist Chantal deFelice has developed a reputation for the analyzation of urban and suburban habitats through beautifully still architectural renderings that hover in the space between aesthetic and profound. Her observations are not overtly relevant in that they do not come across as social commentary; she does not force the viewer to see the world in her way. The misshapen metal knit of the fencing that runs around an arrangement of charming adobe houses is a work of profound beauty and you can share in her appreciation of the macro by taking in how she renders each chain in the link or you can simply appreciate the entire picture, a charming home or a brick apartment building.

This past week Chantal deFelice offered another glimpse into her world by sharing one of her sketchbooks, scanning the pages and exhibiting them as prints at The Bookmachine located inside the Magoski Art Colony in Fullerton. If you are only aware of deFelice’s architectural work, you are in for a surprise. Pinned to the walls of the tiny bookshop, located in the center of the Colony and filled with unique editions, zines and other small and fascinating treasures were images of microbes, microscopes, butterflies and bees surrounding by words of wisdom from Albert Einstein and Henry Miller. The perfect pairing of art and environment was kismet of the finest order. The original sketchbook was also present, displayed behind glass and pinned to velvet like a specimen of nature collected and preserved by the meticulous standards of a bygone age.

The way in which people build and how it does and does not differ from behaviors found in nature is a fascinating realm to explore visually. The patterns found in the natural world can reveal a tremendous amount about the future of the human race if analyzed from a scientific standpoint. For this reason, science advances in all directions, generated by our enthusiasm as a species to explain ourselves and to ensure our continued rule as top of the food chain. We are learning not for the benefit of the honey bee but to insure that the honey bee continues to pollinate our crops. This fascination with science stemming from a fascination with ourselves is an idea that deFelice presents with her usual opaque grace. Look through the microscope, it is a looking glass.

Above all, what is so delightful and thought-provoking about this new series which deFelice has titled, “We Stab Ourself for the Love of Science,” is how the vision of a talented artist can transform whatever subject they choose into a fine ribbon of gold that in itself is a narrative that can be traced through their entire body of work. Like an alchemist, deFelice combines symbolism, science, observation and craftsmanship into something with powerful properties. Looking back over the whole of her creative output it is clear that the image of the microscope is a perfect way to understand how she views the world. The cultivation of a petri dish, the warm glow of light seen from the outside, these are all signs of life. Like honey from bees, the web of spiders or the invisible goings-on of microbes, it all comes together through the work, something human beings in general have always been very good at.

This article was written for RAWR magazine published Januaryr 10, 2013.


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