ARTIST OF THE MONTH
A herd of 14 deer have taken over an empty lot in Downtown Phoenix. The life-sized animals are part of artist Lauren Strohacker’s ongoing attempt to reconnect man and nature by creating imagined habitats lost in the wake of human expansion. The sculptural installation, titled “Encounter,” is located at 408 E. Roosevelt St. and is part of InFlux, a temporary public art project.
Strohacker, 29, created the white mule deer silhouettes from wood composites, glue and the kind of reflective paint used by street maintenance crews. The deer are depicted in various states of rest and play: standing, running and leaping through the lot.
On quiet nights, car headlights animate the ghost-like herd with light and motion, making for a surreal urban tableau. “The deer are so imposing in many ways, and I think it is just surprising to be driving through Roosevelt and see a herd of deer,” Strohacker says.
Strohacker’s call of the wild goes back to infancy, when the walls of her room were covered with animals. Growing up in Ohio, she spent hours sketching zoo animals. The Arizona State University graduate hopes her urban deer will trigger the same responses of fear and exhilaration felt during a rare encounter with a wild animal. “I have always felt more of a connection representing wildlife,” Strohacker says. “There is something really primal about it.”
“Encounter” is up through 2013. Check out Strohacker’s artistic angle on animals at animalrevival.org.