Examining our animal nature

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Hoodie, 2009

Minnesota artist Roxanne Jackson is interested in the blurry line between human and animal behavior. Her latest show “We Believe in Some Thing” opens today at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

In it Jackson documents the many ways in which cultures express our hybrid nature. Whether it’s Native American folklore, or cult films about vampires and werewolves, Jackson takes our fascination with our animal cousins and pushes the exploration even further.

In popular entertainment, animalistic traits are often used to portray a character as either an outcast, or possessed of an untamed aggressive nature. But Jackson’s images almost beg the question “aren’t we the real animals?”

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Devouring Mother, 2009

Jackson also looks at how combining human and animal form carries with it a spriitual power in many cultures, both for good and evil. Whether it’s a sphynx (a lion with a human head), a harpie (half woman, half bird), or a centaur (half man, half horse) we either fear or revere these creatures that are “more than human.”

Looking at Jackson’s sculptures makes me wonder if we’re not just a little bit jealous of our animal counterparts. The freedom from the constraints of modern civilization, the physical power, the heightened senses… is it no wonder we love watching movies about a man named “Wolverine?”

Roxanne Jackson’s “We Believe in Some Thing” runs through November 1 at the MIA.

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