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Apparently, Sharon Birzer has chosen to approach Nature with eyes from another age, with a mix of apprehensive respect and a compulsive curiosity. She seems to borrow the eyes of Hieronymus Bosch and the hand of Joseph Beuys to report about what she gleans at the edges of the seas or in the entrails of creatures. She takes time to watch what we would probably only see, bringing to the eye what the eye did not know it needed, flexing perception to the point of contemplation. She observes and takes notes, making pictures of the most unexpected motifs she finds on the shores, between the stones, in the ground, under the skin, behind the bones. It’s an eclectic accumulation of objects and marks she gives us to look at in her drawings, paintings and prints. Her curiosity seems endless and you hardly find the same motif twice in her pictures but picturing a single specimen, she persuades us that there are billions of them somewhere out there.

She picks motifs that, by a strange coincidence, turn sometimes into signs. But those glyphs appear spontaneously in Nature. A couple of bird’s legs form together a closed form, a perfect triangle, the vertebrae of a fish or a bird that looks like a piece of jewelry or strange architectural details, some other bone seems to stare at us like a mask. Could these be parts of an esoteric message? Is there really something to read and understand among the signs left by the creation? Does Nature try to tell us something?

Deliberately Sharon Birzer chooses to tell about Creation by showing mostly dead and sometimes uncompleted material. There is rarely any background in her pictures. But less gives more. As the shape of the items appear (on the paper), almost like icons, left alone or placed close to each other, forming a circle or a strange constellation, they start to look like something between the ritual of a shaman and the language of an alchemist. In Sharon Birzer’s etchings, a dead butterfly ceases to be a simple insect, a dried seedpod inspires audacious architectures, taking our mind to an improbable prehistoric crustacean or an abandoned spaceship. The organic reminds of the geologic and our human time echoes in a cosmic dimension. What is our individual existence in regard of Life?

By Jean Plouteau, 2011
essay, Jean Plouteau